Book review: The Lies We Tell by Jane Corry

If your troubled teenage son asked for your help because he’d killed someone, how would you react? What would you do? These questions are sure to go through your mind when reading this book, especially if like me you have a son Freddie’s age!

Sarah and Tom’s marriage is already at breaking point, Freddie having both brought them together and driven them apart. How are they going to tackle this bombshell? And how much are they to blame for Freddie’s behaviour?

We’re taken back to how the couple met and the dark secrets they’re hiding from each other. Pedantic, prudish Tom who isn’t the kind to shirk his responsibilities often feels ganged up on by his wife and son. But Tom’s ashamed of something he did at school, the repercussions of which are threatening to turn his life upside down. Bohemian artist Sarah who grew up in a commune tries her hardest to be the woman her husband wants her to be – but she’s haunted by the death of her friend Emily, and daren’t risk Tom finding out that she’s spent time in prison.

So this is a marriage based on lies – and the trouble with lies, as Sarah puts it is:

“Once they came out in the open, they could not be buried again however much earth you tried to shovel on top.”

I absolutely loved the claustrophobic drama between the three main characters, especially in the tense and twisty first half where little teasers are skillfully woven in and the focus is on the couple and their ghastly friends Hugo and Olivia. Jane Corry does a wonderful job of getting inside these characters’ heads and portraying a marriage in crisis, based on resentment, suspicion and guilt.

The story’s told in past and present timeframes including courtroom scenes, and from three viewpoints – Sarah, Tom and a third narrator whose identity will keep you guessing. There’s a change of pace and location in the second half but this powerful domestic drama becomes an emotional rollercoaster which held my interest to the end.

The Lies We Tell will be published on 17 June by Penguin and can be pre-ordered here

Thanks to the publisher for inviting me to read an advance copy.


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