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4.7 out of 5 stars
1,221
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 24 May 2017
Necessary Lies was a bit of a slow starter for me. I didn't find the characters immediately accessible and most of the early chapters are scene and character setting, so not a lot was happening to grab my interest.

Once the plot really started to develop, my opinion completely changed. The characters were utterly compelling and I was fully invested in their happiness. From approximately halfway through the book I lost the ability to put it down...I just had to know what happened next!

Some of the issues raised in the story were unfamiliar and shocking to me. I was aware of eugenics as it related to the atrocities of Nazi Germany, but had no idea that these practices occurred elsewhere under the guise of social care. Alongside smaller, but also shocking to me, events like a woman needing her husband's permission to access contraception, Diane Chamberlain paints a horrifyingly real picture of the restrictions of womanhood and poverty combined that has left me with much food for thought long after the final page.

There were a few mysteries along the way, mostly relating to character's histories, and one in particular that could be considered a twist (which I won't ruin here!). I had already guessed part of that secret before it was revealed, but was kept guessing in other areas, which was refreshing for me as I am generally a competent plot-predictor.

Whilst the ending deviated somewhat from the strict realism of the rest of the novel, I am glad that Chamberlain opted for a *spoiler* happy ending for her characters. Without it the story would just have been too sad and bleak, but thankfully we are left with a satisfying, if convenient, conclusion which I fear did not materialise for the real life counterparts of our protagonists.

I recommend this book for fans of historical fiction and dilemma novels of the Jodi Picault kind. It is a harrowing, fascinating, entertaining read, that examines big moral questions but in a well-written, readable style.
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I couldn't put this book down. It tells the story of Jane Forrester, a woman in 1960 working for the Department of Public Welfare in the deep south of America. She's new to the job and finds it hard to detach herself emotionally from the families she is dealing with. One of her families is the Hart family and in particular 15 year old Ivy and her 17 year old sister, Mary Ella. They work in tobacco fields and live in poverty. The biggest part of the story relates to a moral dilemma facing Jane, and this made the book such an interesting read, especially when you consider it's based on reality.

The book alternates between being told from the points of view of Jane and Ivy. I was never confused as to who was 'speaking' as each has a very distinctive voice. I raced through the story - Diane Chamberlain has such a human way of writing, enabling me as a reader to feel empathy with the characters. Add to that her ability to write such interesting and morally complex storylines and this guarantees a fab read.
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on 6 May 2017
A really great read. I felt so captured by the story of Ivy Hart and Jane's journey that I just couldn't put this book down for long! The eugenics movement was written about in a realistic, non-dramatised manner, which just added to how awful it must have been for those affected by it. I did find some aspects of the last few chapters a bit predictable but it honestly didn't distract from how authentic and engaging this book was! Definitely recommend if you're interested in 1960s history surrounding forced sterilisation and social work.
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on 2 May 2017
Introduces her characters well, sets the scene, which rings true with other portrayals of the darker aspects of southern USA society- it's attitude to race and disadvantaged"white trash".
Based on true historical facts, the plot unfolds in a credible and intriguing manner. Jane, an intelligent, well educated kindly young woman, in pursuing her ambition to be a social worker finds herself at odds with prevailing social policy. This brings her into conflict with her successful Paediatrician husband and his social circle.
Works through to a satisfactory conclusion.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 October 2013
I was unsure whether I would take to this book, especially since the setting is in rural North Carolina in the 1960's. This was a time when race was divided and although we are now in the 20th century, racism is sadly still an issue for some in that part of the world. For that reason, I was undecided as to whether I really wanted to read this, but having read other DC books and loved them I started. I was pleased I made that choice as Diane Chamberlain has created a book that tells a story, and just that. She doesn't sensationalise anything about it, but creates a story that will maybe make readers aware of the struggles that went on at that time.

Jane Forrester is far from the norm' in the sixties as she is determined that although she is newly married, she still wants to have a career. I liked Jane and DC did an amazing job of recreating the unease that people felt in the sixties when women working was out of the ordinary. Very quickly we see Jane start her job as a social worker and are instantly taken into the world of the poorest people that are working in the tobacco fields. Ivy Hart is a young girl and lives with her Grandmother and sister. It took me not time to be transported to the conditions and type of life they had to lead.

As the story unfolds and we meet more workers and we begin to see the effects of the Eugenics Programme which was widely used in the sixties, and something I had never heard of until reading this book. As the book progresses you begin to see that there is a lot more to it that at first glance. The story peels back layers and weaves an absolutely gripping storyline making it impossible to stop reading. It's a pretty sad story in one respect but one which had an absolutely amazing ending and a story that I loved from start to finish. Diane Chamberlain has singled herself out as an outstanding author by touching the reader emotionally, but at the same time still producing an amazing story which highlights historical events that some people may know nothing about.

This may not be for everybody as the subject matter may be too sensitive for some, but I found it absolutely gripping and would highly recommend it. It's a book that will have remain in my memory banks for some time and I think if you haven't read it you should certainly give it a try.
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on 7 February 2017
Although this had an interesting and serious subject matter - the eugenics program in the USA which I didn't know about -I agree with another reviewer that it's set in a relatively lightweight novel, and so ultimately it wasn't as satisfying as it could have been.
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on 8 May 2017
This was a fantastic book, the story I found compelling and really well written and to think this happened in reality made me so sad. I loved it from start to finish & felt quite sad to finish it in the end! Thoroughly recommend it. 5 Stars!
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on 14 September 2016
Read loads from this author and loved them all but this one didn't do anything for me at all and I ended up skim reading it to the end.

Only positive thing I can say is that is was on offer for 59p when I downloaded it.
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on 2 May 2017
Enjoyed reading this book, interesting characters and an insight to what life was like at the time.
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on 22 April 2017
Very slow burner, wouldnt read again but its ok.
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