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The Book of Lies Paperback – 3 Mar 2011
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"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)
An extraordinary portrait of life under Occupation, with two young characters that the reader will not easily forget. 'This is an unforgettable and brilliant debut. It establishes Mary Horlock as an original, compelling and powerful new voice in British fiction.' Hanif KureishiSee all Product description
Top customer reviews
The text is built on two first-person narratives: that of Cat, a disaffected teen, written in 1985, and that of her uncle Charlie, told in 1965 but looking back to his own teenage years when Guernsey was under German occupation.
This is a book where we need to pay attention to where events take place, and the names of the various characters as the entangled histories of the island reach backwards and forwards in time, and I like that the author trusts us to make these connections for ourselves without having to spell out every nuance as some books do. That said, Cat's story of teenage angst feels too drawn-out in parts, and the German Occupation part of the book was more abbreviated than I would have liked.
So overall this is a good story, well-executed - not quite a 5-star book for the reasons given above, but certainly one I'm happy to recommend.
The Book of Lies is really two books in one, for it skillfully interweaves the story of teenager Catherine or Cat, and her Uncle, local historian Charles. The book as far as Cat is concerned in set in the mid 1980's, whereas Charles the Uncle tells his story from the mid 60's, looking back to the German occupation of the island, a period of Guernsey history about which few books exist. As both stories unfold, we find snippets of information that link the two tales together, like the fact that Cat's tormentor, her so-called friend Nicolette, lives in the same house where her Uncle Charles was tortured by the German occupiers.
There are other similaries between the two characters, for both Cat and Charles have lost their fathers, and both have done terrible things without meaning to, having been caught up in a web of lies and miscommunication that ultimately costs lives. Like the blurb says, on an island this small your friends and your enemies quickly end up the same. Charles was betrayed by those that he thought were friends, in an effort to try and fit in, as was Cat, who is betrayed by her best friend, Nicolette, the coolest girl in the school.
The authors portrayal of the teenage Cat was for me particularly poignant, as I too was bullied by those that I tried to befriend, like Cat for trying too hard to fit in. Cat's disgust at her friend's clique and the way that she so rapidly lets their friendship go and moves on to the next thing is palpable and so very true to life, as this is the reality for so many teens.
This is one of those books that contains many different layers, and I suppose it is that that makes it so refreshing and so readable. It is a book of history, of dark comedy and the deepest secrets of the soul, it is also a book about truth and dare I say it, the law of cause and effect, for it shows that for every action there is indeed a reaction. Most of all it is as the title says, a book about lies and about how they are always found out. It is however a book that I would wholeheartedly recommend.
A very rewarding read. Unputdownable.