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The Book of Lies Paperback – 3 Mar 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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Paperback, 3 Mar 2011
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; Main edition (3 Mar. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847678858
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847678850
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.5 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 675,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"This is an unforgettable and brilliant debut. It establishes Mary Horlock as an original, compelling and powerful new voice in British fiction." (Hanif Kureishi)

"Irresistibly funny and poignant...confirms Mary Horlock as a rare talent." (Marie Darrieussecq)

"Mary Horlock's authorial debut is impressive. She layers the novel with different voices, deploying Catherine, who, while disclosing her own inner longings and intimate angsts, is the novel's agent of revelation." (Scotsman)

"The misplaced loyalties that often drive the adolescent mind are expertly depicted." (Hilary Claire O’Hagan The National)

"An assured debut...Horlock's irreverent style marks the arrival of a distinctive new voice." (Sunday Business Post)

"Horlock's use of dual first-person narration lends immediacy and apparent authenticity." (Sean O’Brien Times Literary Supplement)

"Cathy's teenage voice is a joy - funny, endearing and credible, it bursts with attitude. ... Horlock has created an authentic adolescent voice and, in the process, not only illuminated the history of a small island but also thrown light on the subjectivity of history, truth and memory." (Leyla Sanai Independent)

"The joy of this ingenious debut is that, somehow, it manages to link the twin stories convincingly to create an impressive fable about the relativity of truth and the deceits that make living on a small island possible. Highly recommended." (Adrian Turpin Financial Times)

"The Book of Lies is an assured debut, and Horlock's irreverent style marks the arrival of a distinctive new voice." (Sunday Business Post)

"[a] seething, startling work." (Catherine Taylor Guardian)

About the Author

Mary Horlock spent her childhood in Guernsey, moving to England at the age of eighteen. She read History and History of Art at Cambridge. Mary lives in London with her partner and their two children.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I was given this book as a present and read it, in the whirl of London life and work, within three days, using every free moment I had. It is a gripping story, impresssively told, deep and complex - a rare exploration of an important moment of real history, kept under wraps for decades, in the suspenseful style of a crime novel with memorable characters and racy language. The Book of Lies is about history, but also about the darkest corners of the human psyche, the desire for truth and the dangers of both truth-telling and lying. It probes into the dark side of an oppressed, constrained society, teenage angst, viciousness and resilience with a power that made me think of Lord of the Flies.
A very rewarding read. Unputdownable.
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Format: Paperback
I read a lot - in my lunch hour, in bed, in the bath, while I cook supper - my books take a lot of punishment! Rarely do I find one that I sinmply CANNOT put down but The Book of Lies was one of these rare treasures. It really became quite inconvenient, between my desperation to find out what happens to Cat and, in the parallel story, to her Uncle Charlie, I read far too late into the night, while the water cooled and saucepans overflowed - oh yes and I also nearly got into trouble at work! The voice of Cat is utterly convincing and chilling and yet (especially the footnotes which I loved) somehow at the same time very funny. The historical background to Guernsey's Occupation has obviously been thoroughly researched and friends who live on the Island tell me that - unlike some other books - it is very accurate. So despite the title of the book, no lies there. Having reached the end I was then immediately compelled to read it again so I could relish the wonderful use of words and pick up on nuances I had missed the first time. A truly brilliant book by a new author - I cannot wait for her next one!
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By Welsh Annie TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 April 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Catherine Rozier is wonderful - you might not like her, but her view of the world is vivid, funny and heart-breakingly sad by turn. She's a wonderfully unreliable narrator, and Mary Horlock gets under her skin incredibly well. Writing as a teenager isn't easy - she cracks it.

The alternating Uncle Charlie wartime narrative worked for me too - this isn't Potato Pie Guernsey, this is cruel and raw.

This is a really clever and well written book exploring issues like truth and guilt in a dark, funny, and original way. And a word about the footnotes - they irritated me to death at the start, but provided a wonderful opportunity for witty asides that really grew on me as the book went on. Different and really enjoyable.
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Format: Paperback
I am a busy mum of 2 with a part-time job and very little time but once I started this I could not put it down and MADE time to read it. Right from the attention-grabbing opening of a teenage girl hovering on a cliff edge. Catherine Rozier is a brilliant creation - full of teenage angst and melodrama - scribbling frantically in her diary in 1985 she tells the tragic story of her ill-fated friendship with the now dead Nicolette. Catherine's a proper know-it-all, and she just can't help adding footnotes, and congratulating herself when she uses a particularly long word. Add to this her misery at being stuck on what she calls a 'miserable rock' - the island of Guernsey - and her daily entries make for for heady and hilarious reading.
But Catherine's breathless rantings are intercut with another voice. Her (now long dead) Uncle Charlie recorded his own memories of the island from when he was a teenager. His story, punctuated by snippets of old Guernsey patois, is very different in tone, but then Charlie was a teenager when Guernsey was occupied by the Germans during the war. He's eager to tell you all the things the Guernsey Tourist Board don't ever want you to hear. He talks of mass graves and informers, and, most importantly, he talks about his closest friend, the friend that betrayed him to the Nazis and ruined his chances of escaping.
Now it gets complicated: Charlie is telling his story to his brother and Catherine's father, Emile Rozier, a man who devoted his life to exposing the truth about the German Occupation, and whose books and journals care crammed in every corner of the family home.
It's soon apparent that Catherine isn't just trying to explain what happened between her and Nicolette, she's trying to explain what happened to her family.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a hard book to become thoroughly absorbed by, partly because the dual plots aren't equally engaging, and partly because the two narrators, Catherine and Charles, are both rather unappealing characters. Catherine is cold, self absorbed and a self-confessed murderer. Charles is bitter, has a slightly odd declamatory style, and throws in Guernsey patois so liberally that it's hard to follow what seem to be some pretty crucial bits of his narration. Translations are not given in the footnotes (which in the Kindle edition appear at the end of each chapter and thus are almost redundant), and even with a decent grasp of French, the dialect, spelt phonetically, is difficult to read.

The depiction of Guernsey is interesting, and Mary Horlock conjures up a great sense of place, but her characters lacked warmth for me, I had to check the back of the book half way through to remind myself whether this was teen fiction or not. (Nothing wrong with teen fiction, and I do occasionally read some). It's not, but Catherine's emotions are presented in such a limited way that I thought it might be aimed at that audience.

There are some funny moments, but for me the novel lacks the thrills of a good thriller, and its twists and turns never really hit home emotionally. This isn't a book that I'd return to, though it passed a couple of hours on a train journey!
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