Author: Judy Blundell
Release date: 6th July 2009
Genre: Dark Historical Romance
Target Audience: 15+
Summer's ending, Evie's stepfather is finally home from the Second World War, and Evie is tired of her glamorous mother treating her like a little girl. Then a mysterious stranger appears; a handsome ex-GI who served with Evie's stepfather. Slowly, Evie realizes that she is falling in love with him - but he has dark secrets, and a strange control over her parents.
What I Saw and How I Lied is, as the title suggests, a novel about deception. Evie is fifteen and craves the glamourous world of her mother. Set in a post Second World War America, the novel speculates on both the experiences of ordinary men, who became soldiers like Evie's step-father, and their families who had to keep hoping for their safe return. However, the novel is more than a coming-of-age story. Evie is on the cusp of womanhood and when her step-father suggests they take a vacation to Florida she meets Peter. She sees that he exists within the glamourous adult world and is easily captivated by his charm. Unfortunately for Evie, Peter is hiding a dark secret and he is not the only one.
The novel also explores the corruption of innocence. Evie is characterised in the opening chapters as a wishful school girl with childish dreams of a more glamourous lifestyle. As the novel develops, Evie's eyes are opened to the harsh injustices of post-war America and the deception of those around her. Evie's innocence is crucial to the story. However, I found some of the early scenes difficult to believe of a fifteen year old girl. For example, Evie is caught trying on her mother's bra and stuffing it with tissue. I personally felt that this would be the actions of a much younger character. Having said that by the end of the novel, I had realised that this immaurity and untouched innocence was necessary to underpin the whole story.
I found What I Saw and How I Lied an interesting exploration of romantic ideals, betrayal, deception and atonement. The ending stayed true to the novel's revelation of these themes. Overall, this novel lacked a feel-good factor and that is part of its truth. This made the story harder to enjoy as it exposed a dark reality. I liked it but I just couldn't enjoy the destruction of deceit.