Friday, 16 March 2012

The Book of Lies: Mary Horlock (Guernsey)

On this island your friends and your enemies quickly end up the same . . .-1985-When fifteen-year-old Catherine sees her best friend slip from a wild cliff path she vows never to say a word. But Catherine was the last person to see her alive.-1940-Charlie is also holding back a secret from the adults on the island. As German soldiers arrive on Guernsey, he carries out an act of rebellion with consequences that will reach far into the future - and into Catherine's own life.The Book of Lies is a powerful novel about friendship, love and betrayal. Weaving together two lives across the decades, it proves that no truth is as simple as it seems.

This was an excellent book, a first in two ways - my first Kindle read and a first novel for the author Mary Horlock, who was born in Guernsey and moved to the mainland at the age of 18.

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.

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