"Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather, and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know." - John Keats

"You're not allowed to say anything about books because they're books and books are, you know, God." - Nick Hornby

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Review #34: Lies You Wanted to Hear, by James Whitfield Thomson

Lies You Wanted to Hear is the debut novel from James Whitfield Thomson, who I hope doesn't make us wait another 67 years for his second book.

The story begins with Lucy reflecting on the last several years of her life, years without her two children. "Six years, seven months, and fifteen days gone," she writes. "Happy birthday, Nathan!" We quickly spin backwards to the late 70s, to Lucy's fateful meeting with Matt, the man who is to become her husband and the father of her children.

Thomson alternates chapters: Lucy narrates, and then Matt steps in, often retelling the same story in his own words. It's interesting to see two different perspectives, and Thomson gives them each a very unique voice. We see Lucy and Matt meet, we see Matt fall in love with Lucy, and we see Lucy realize that Matt is a better choice than Griffin, the other man who has a habit of disappearing on Lucy when she needs him most. Lucy and Matt marry and have two children, Sarah and Nathan, and with Nathan's birth and Lucy's subsequent post-partum depression, their marriage starts to disintegrate. Eventually, they divorce, and one weekend, Matt and the kids disappear.

What follows is Lucy's heartbreaking self-reflection. Is she responsible for the end of their marriage? Could she have loved Matt more? Could she have been a better mother? Was Matt right to take the children and start over? She lied to Matt; does she deserve this? How long is he going to punish her?

Lucy and Matt are deeply flawed characters. In many ways, they are horrible people and they do horrible things to one another, to their children, and to themselves. But they are human, and Thomson draws them imbeccably. Lies You Wanted to Hear explores what happens when we lie to the ones we love, and even more, when we lie to ourselves.

1 comment:

  1. Terrific novel --- read it ASAP upon publication!