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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and emotional - I was blown away by this book!
I absolutely LOVE Diane Chamberlain's books, Every so often you find an author that makes you stop and think "WOW" and Diane Chamberlain is that for me, I first discovered her books many years ago and since then i have followed her and bought all of her novels. When I first heard about Necessary Lies, I was eagerly awaiting it among her many other loyal fans and I could...
Published 16 months ago by Megan ReadingInTheSunshine

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An engaging book on an interesting subject
A good story with strong characters and an easy read as the book is broken down into accessible bite sized chapters. I had no idea about the Eugenics programme so I found that very interesting. I didn't feel the book was particularly well written which is why I have given it three stars. I found it a bit too simplistic but nonetheless it was an enjoyable read.
Published 13 months ago by Black Cat


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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and emotional - I was blown away by this book!, 9 Aug 2013
By 
Megan ReadingInTheSunshine (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Necessary Lies (Paperback)
I absolutely LOVE Diane Chamberlain's books, Every so often you find an author that makes you stop and think "WOW" and Diane Chamberlain is that for me, I first discovered her books many years ago and since then i have followed her and bought all of her novels. When I first heard about Necessary Lies, I was eagerly awaiting it among her many other loyal fans and I could not wait to get started!

In North Carolina in 1960, Jane Forrester is fresh out of university and soon to be married to a doctor. Whilst her husband to be is keen for her to be a housewife, having dinners on the table, joining the club of the other wives and concentrating on having children with him. But Jane has other ideas - she wants to be independent and pursue a career, and further to that, she wants to be in a career where she helps others. Much to the distaste of her husband, Jane starts working as a social worker, but the job is far from what Jane expected. She encounters a world of poverty unlike she's seen before, and whilst working with the Hart family, Jane uncovers a secret. But what can she do about it? What should her choices be? And at what risk?

Words cannot describe how much I LOVED this book. To say it is powerful is a big understatement. Diane's writing moved me in a way that I haven't been able to stop thinking about the story and the characters. Whilst I was cooking or even sleeping my mind was with Jane and the Hart family, and even after finishing, in my mind I'm already missing them and I feel like they have grown to become really good friends of mine.

The characters are PERFECTLY written. I liked Jane from the very beginning, she is your everyday hard-working girl who has the desire to have a career and help others. I warmed to her instantly and I became very emotionally involved with her, throughout the story I really got behind her and I was cheering her on as she made some huge decisions and went through with them. I was desperate to read on because I really wanted things to go well for her. I also loved Ivy, I won't say too much about her but I really liked her too and I felt I understood her, she was one of my favourite characters and I'm still thinking of her after finishing.

As is expected with a Diane Chamberlain, there are controversial topics explored and many moral dilemmas are brought up. This is what I love so much about Diane's books, she always makes you think and causes you to put yourself in the shoes of the characters involved. As i was reading I was constantly pondering my own views, would I have taken the same decisions? Would I have done something differently? How do I know what is right and what is wrong? I REALLY want to talk about it but I'm going to keep quiet because in this case it is best to go in without any outside influences, so that everything can unravel at the right tie and so you all can make up your own minds.

Above all, this is an extremely emotional novel. I couldn't concentrate on anything else whilst I was involved in this novel, and I even took to talking to my husband about the characters and their situations as though they were my best friends. I warn you: this is an emotional rollercoaster of a book! I laughed with them, I smiled at some scenes and my heart was touched by the beautiful writing and some of the actions of the characters, And at the same time there were some truly shocking moments that had me gasping for breath, I disliked certain characters with a passion and oh how I cried - I used up so many tissues sobbing.

Necessary Lies opens you up to a world of poverty, discrimination, and the harsh world that is sometimes around us. But in this novel there is also hope, strength courage and true determination. I was blown away by this novel, it is truly outstanding.
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84 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read, 8 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Necessary Lies (Paperback)
I was really looking forward to reading this book as I had read very good reviews. I wasn't disappointed. It is told from the perspective of the 2 main characters - Jane and Ivy. It is set in the 1960's in North Carolina. Jane is newly married and goes against her husband's wishes by wanting a career so becomes a social worker. Ivy is a young girl living with her family and working on a tobacco farm in abject poverty. Their two worlds meet and the result is a very powerful story. It makes for uncomfortable reading at times - mainly due to the fact of attitudes in 1960's America, but you are drawn into the story from the very first page. This is an excellent book and the fact that the Eugenics Programme actually happened makes for a fascinating read. Diane Chamberlain is an author who grips you from the word go and I would recommend this book wholeheartedly.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A page turner, 31 Mar 2014
By 
Julia Flyte - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Necessary Lies (Paperback)
Set in North Carolina, 1960, this is the story of Jane, a young social worker, and Ivy, a 15 year old who lives with her grandmother and older sister. They take turns narrating the story by chapter. Initially I was far more interested in Jane's story but as the book progresses I got wrapped up in both characters.

One of the fascinating things about the book is how dramatically attitudes have changed in the past 50 years. For starters, there is Jane's husband's attitude towards her working - which is shared by many of their contemporaries. Then there is the callous way that the State feels it can mastermind the lives of women on welfare. While the story is fictional, the background is not, which makes it even more horrifying.

This is a tremendously readable book and for a large part of it I had absolutely no idea how the author could resolve all the different problems that were being thrown up. It does get a little silly towards the very end and I also felt that the prologue at the beginning added nothing to the book. Nevertheless if you enjoyed The Help (and who didn't?), you are very likely to enjoy this too.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely social history based novel, 18 Nov 2013
By 
Maz1 (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Necessary Lies (Kindle Edition)
VERY GOOD BOOK!
Good story, good contextual historical setting, good style, all well connected and intriguing. It's easy to relate to the main characters and feel their dilemmas, pains and failings.
I am going to read more of Dianne Chamberlain, based on this experience.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant and powerful, this is a must-read novel!, 1 Aug 2013
This review is from: Necessary Lies (Paperback)
'Necessary Lies' centers on two young women, Jane Forrester and Ivy Hart. 22-year-old Jane recently married and is very much middle-class. Even though her husband Robert makes enough money as a pediatrician to support them both she's desperate to have her own job for a while, as she wants to help other people before she inevitably becomes pregnant and housebound. She manages to find a job as a social worker in the welfare department and when her boss has an accident Jane is thrown into the field much sooner than expected and quite unprepared she has to use her instincts to try to make the right decisions for the families in her care.

The Hart family is one of particular importance to Jane. Grandmother 'Nonnie' lives with her teenaged granddaughters Ivy and Mary Ella, and the latter's 2-year-old son Baby William, in a tiny little house on the land of the Gardiners. Ivy and Mary Ella's father was tragically killed in a farming accident when they were still little and Mr Gardiner feels responsible so lets them live in the house for free. In return, the Harts continue to work on his tobacco fields. Mary Ella is feeble minded and when she became pregnant aged just fourteen taking care of the family became Ivy's responsibility, despite her being two years her sister's junior. Now with Baby William roaming around looking for trouble around every corner and Nonnie becoming more ill and weaker by the day the strain is really getting to Ivy. The only thing she finds solace in is the secret nights spend with the Gardiners' son, Henry Allen, who is her boyfriend.

As Jane grows fond of the Hart family and uncovers some horrifying deep-buried secrets she has to decide whether she chooses to do what everyone says she should be doing, based solely on the fact that the Harts are living in extreme poverty and have a bleak future ahead of them, or what she thinks would be the right choice in their case - and Ivy in particular, a girl she sees a lot of potential in despite the discouraging circumstances.

Some months the majority of novels I read I can only classify as average at best and other months I read one amazing book after another; July definitely falls in the second category. I've been fortunate to receive some fantastic titles recently that while wildly different are all noteworthy, gripping and memorable. 'Necessary Lies' is all these things because it is an absolute eye-opener and a heartbreaking one at that. It's not only exceptionally well-written fiction but author Diane Chamberlain has also incorporated a piece of genuine history not often explored in commercial women's literature; the Eugenics Sterilization Program, which is something I'd associate with Nazi Germany not the swinging sixties.

In fact, the extreme poverty, racial segregation and general descriptions of rural North Carolina emit the feeling that the story is set in the late nineteenth century not the 1960s, as I can't imagine anyone living in these shocking conditions in the same period in the Netherlands which is when my parents were growing up. It is easy to get lost in long bygone days when reading the pages but then the mention of much more modern concepts, such as a television, pull the reader right back into the 20th century and the harsh realisation that these horrors happened really not all that long ago and perhaps behind closed doors may still be continuing.

Distressing and immensely sad yet also intriguing and educational, 'Necessary Lies' is a poignant and powerful must-read novel about family, exploitation and defying expectations based on wealth, race and social generalisations.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An engaging book on an interesting subject, 5 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Necessary Lies (Kindle Edition)
A good story with strong characters and an easy read as the book is broken down into accessible bite sized chapters. I had no idea about the Eugenics programme so I found that very interesting. I didn't feel the book was particularly well written which is why I have given it three stars. I found it a bit too simplistic but nonetheless it was an enjoyable read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking, 4 Nov 2014
This review is from: Necessary Lies (Paperback)
Set in 1960s North Carolina this book covers a period of relatively recent history which I am sure the state would prefer forgotten. I won't spoil the book by going into detail but suffice to say that I admire the author for tackling what is still a contenious subject.

The "heroine" of the book is Jane. Marrying a paediatrician she should have been settling back into a life of coffee with girlfriends, dinner parties and organising charity bake sales. Jane, however, is cut from a different cloth and wants to continue working after her marriage taking a job as a social worker. Although I admire Jane for wanting to break out of the 1960s housewife mould, I struggled to like or empathise with her. She deceives her husband in many ways from even before their wedding day, telling lie after lie about her job and becoming so obsessed that his needs and their family life came a very poor second to her clients. Jane also bucked against authority in her job deliberately going against her superiors and the rules. Yes, this was needed in some ways in order to highlight the rights of Jane's clients but her "I know best" attitude (despite only being in the job a matter of weeks) grated on me rather.

There are a lot of strong women in this book. There are several very poor women who were doing anything in order to keep their family fed & together. Mary Ella is a tragic teenager who loved her child but was unable to care properly. Their grandmother, Nonnie, was trying to keep up with an active child in terrible conditions and Ivy fought for her family and her man.

This was a book which which I found very easy to read and which flowed smoothly. I was constantly wanting to see how things turned out and struggled to put it down. Despite my struggles with the character of Jane, I did want to know what was going to happen to her and the Hart family. A very enjoyable book with plenty to think about.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Could hardly put it down., 1 Dec 2014
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This review is from: Necessary Lies (Kindle Edition)
Almost hard to believe that this book is a fictional story, (although based on real events in recent American history). The characters are so real and it is is written so well I felt I wanted to find out what became of them all. I was dubious about buying it after reading 'The first Lie' but I am so glad I did. The difficulties Jane found herself in and created for others, by 'doing the right thing' unfolded brilliantly within the story.

As someone who has worked with and supported vulnerable young people, I could easily relate to the dichotomy she faced every day, from the expectations of her supervising colleagues and her own desire to 'help' the unfortunate people she was charged with monitoring. Throw in her selfish, self centred husband and what a recipe for disaster.

I rarely get through a book so quickly,being just a bedtime reader, I usually fall asleep after a few pages, but I could hardly put it down and when I did I couldn't wait to pick it up again to find out what happens next.

My only disappointment was that I wanted to know what happened to all of the people that were affected by Ivy and Jane's actions. The jump to 2011 was a bigger leap than I wanted, but perhaps that was only because the story was so compelling and the people so real.

Highly recommended read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars NECESSARY LIES, 21 Nov 2013
By 
Amanda "sac" (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Necessary Lies (Paperback)
Set in the 1960's in North Carolina newlywed Jane Forrester against her husband's wishes takes a job as a social worker. Assigned to the Hart family it does not take long before Jane finds herself heavily involved in their lives. When she finds out a piece of information which could ruin the life of fifteen year old Ivy Hart she takes it upon herself to go above and beyond the call of duty to help this young girl.
An interesting and thought provoking read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening and heartbreaking - one of those books everyone should read, 29 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Necessary Lies (Paperback)
I’m a big fan of Diane Chamberlain as it is, and for me this is her best yet. Necessary Lies is a wonderful book, it’s a brilliant and enlightening story wrapped up in her always lovely writing.

The story is based around a topic that’s new to me – eugenics in twentieth-century America, and specifically North Carolina’s eugenics programme. It’s partly narrated through the eyes of Ivy (who featured in short story prequel The First Lie, which doesn’t need to be read in order to make sense of this book, but which I would really recommend). Ivy’s teenage sister is mum to a troublesome toddler, her grandmother is fierce, and her boyfriend is the son of the wealthier landowner they work for. The second narrative perspective is that of Jane, a young woman newly married to a well-regarded doctor from a good family. Jane is also a welfare worker, in the early days of a career that means a huge amount to her – she wants to help people and feel worthwhile, not just spend her days at home. This is a constant source of upset in her marriage, as her husband is embarrassed by her refusal to embrace the traditional role of middle-class housewife.

The two stories converge when Jane’s supervisor is hospitalised and Jane is forced to hit the ground running and take sole responsibility for the families she is assigned to. One of those families, dependent on state welfare, is Ivy’s. Jane needs to ensure that Ivy’s small nephew is being well cared for and that his mother is taking her responsibilities seriously, and that Ivy herself is behaving responsibly and won’t get herself into a similar situation. Teenage pregnancy amongst poor families – of all races – is the key issue faced by the state welfare department. The eugenics programme is designed to combat this, partly through education and support from social workers like Jane, and partly through more drastic and permanent means – sterilisation of teenagers (or older mothers with multiple children but little or no income). As Jane becomes more closely involved with Ivy’s family, and learns more about the program, she struggles to reconcile the rules with her ‘human code’ – she wants to help people and make a difference, but discovers that how to do this is not as straightforward as she thought.

Necessary Lies raises questions about inter-class and inter-race relationships, about welfare and state support, about right to life and right to parenthood, and about what a good life is: is love enough, even if you can’t provide basic material things for your child? Perhaps the biggest question is around who gets to decide who can or can’t have children – and whether it is ever justifiable to keep that decision secret. I was shocked by what I read in the book, and even more shocked when I researched the subject further and discovered just how much of it is based on reality. That teenage girls were being sterilised against their will or without their knowledge in parts of the USA only a few decades ago is staggering to me. The North Carolina eugenics programme in particular had huge and far-reaching consequences for large numbers of children and teenagers, consequences that are still being felt by many of those men and women today. The compensation and official apologies issued by the state of North Carolina in recent years cannot change the irreversible impact of the programme and this is an issue that continues to occupy politicians there now.

Having said all of this, Diane Chamberlain manages to avoid presenting this as a clear-cut issue. Charlotte, Jane’s boss, is a good example of how she does this. Charlotte seems largely cold and cruel, and immune to the ethical dilemmas that Jane is struggling with. But there are glimpses of her more caring side, and of the reasons and beliefs and aspirations that brought her to social and welfare work in the first place. She is in a position of authority, with the potential to wield significant power of the lives of individuals, and she simply has to split herself. Someone has to make the difficult decisions, and Charlotte sees it as her responsibility to always look at the big picture and the cumulative impact of each decision rather than at each individual family. Looking at things from this perspective, it becomes much harder to singularly condemn the actions of the state.

As always with this author, the characterisation is excellent (protagonists and secondary characters alike). Jane is perfectly flawed (as opposed to just perfect) – she’s both infuriating and inspiring. She lies to her husbands and others, and knowingly breaks rules, but it’s easy to forget whilst reading that she is very young, and also that she is a young working woman in a time when that role was rare and challenging. I loved the strength of her desire to have a positive impact on society and her devotion to her work. I respected her for standing firm in the face of her husband’s demands, objection and attempts to change her. And I empathised with her struggle to make sense of what is right and what is just the rules. But at the same time, she can be impulsive and acts without thinking through the possible consequences.

Ivy is a completely lovely character. For me, at least, she is just good. She is young but mature beyond her years – certainly more so than her older sister (although there are suggestions that her sister may have some kind of learning disability). She is devoted to her family and shoulders more than her fair share of the burdens of the household. She is intelligent, optimistic and ambitious. She’s also in love, and her relationship with Henry Allen is wonderful. I kept waiting for things to go wrong, but Ivy and Henry Allen are one of the relatively untainted elements of the novel.

I can’t recommend Necessary Lies strongly enough. It is intelligent and provocative (in a more subtle way than than the deliberate moralising of Jodi Picoult, who Diane Chamberlain is often compared to) and beautiful written. The voices are clearly defined, entirely believable and of the time. It prompted me to read further around the subject, so it’s thought-provoking, but it is also heartbreaking – the story really affected me. It’s the kind of book that I couldn’t get out of my head for weeks after finishing it and that had me talking about the subject to anyone who would listen. This is one of the best offerings from a consistently brilliant writer.
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Necessary Lies
Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain (Paperback - 1 Aug 2013)
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