Annie Barrows, celebrated co-author of the global bestseller The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, once again evokes the charm and eccentricity of a small town filled with extraordinary characters. In the summer of 1938, Layla Beck is forced out of the lap of luxury and sent by her Senator father to work on the Federal Writers' Project, a New Deal jobs program. Assigned to cover the history of the little mill town of Macedonia, West Virginia, Layla envisions a summer of tedium. However, once she secures a room in the home of the unconventional Romeyn family, she is completely drawn into their complex world. At the Romeyn house, twelve-year-old Willa is desperate to acquire her favourite virtues of ferocity and devotion, but her search leads her into a thicket of mysteries, including the questionable business that occupies her charismatic father and the reason her adored aunt Jottie remains unmarried. Layla's arrival strikes a match to the family's veneer, bringing to light buried secrets that will tell a new tale about the Romeyns and their deep entanglement in Macedonia's history. As Willa peels back the layers of her family's past, and Layla delves deeper into town legend, everyone involved is transformed - and their personal histories completely rewritten. Quirky, loveable, and above all human, this novel of small-town life in the 1930s is an immersive experience that will leave readers reeling and wanting more. 'Annie Barrows leaves no doubt that she is a storyteller of rare caliber, with wisdom and insight to spare . . . Barrows is at her best here. Every page rings like a bell' Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife 'As delightfully eccentric as Guernsey yet refreshingly different . . . The temperatures are soaring, but it's nothing compared to the heat generated by this sizzling story' Washington Post
The Truth According to Us
Random House Australia
16 Reader Reviews
Referencing The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on the cover may help sell more books, but could lead to disappointed readers whose high expectations are not met.
Don't get me wrong, I liked The Truth According to Us well enough, but it certainly doesn't have the well, magic that The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society has.
Some reasons why I feel a bit ambiguous about this book:
* I thought it did well in evoking a small Southern American town in the summer, but didn't really evoke the Great Depression at all.
* Some of the characters felt a little stereotypical: Felix the charming troublemaker; Layla the spoilt rich girl; Willa the precocious child. I liked Jottie and her relationship with Felix, so close with their little in jokes, and yet also somehow adversarial. Given Jottie's affection for Felix I felt there must have been much more to him that we didn't see.
* I found the fact that only Willa's parts were told in the first person annoying because it felt like an obvious literary device "exposition via naive child". Having said that, it allowed us insight into the impact on her of having to choose between two people she loved dearly, never mind that what she did was "right".
* It takes far too long to get to the very obvious revelation, but then some parts of the aftermath weren't typical happily-ever-after.
I wouldn't necessarily recommend this to my friends, not because it's bad but because there are so many better books out there. If it was shorter I would possibly recommend it as a light, easy read but at nearly 500 pages it's not.