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Saturday, 12 September 2009

Review: What I Saw and How I Lied

Author: Judy Blundell
Release date: 6th July 2009
Genre: Dark Historical Romance
Target Audience: 15+

From Amazon:
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.


Chicklish said...

I wonder if Evie seemed younger because of the different times? Although maybe that would make her act older. Thanks for a really interesting review!

Lauren said...

I was really glad to see you review this because while I've always thought it looked interesting, it's not the kind of book I'd usually go for. Having read your review, I think the 'darkness' of the story might just appeal to me.

The Book Bug said...

Nice review, however, I dont think I like the look of it that much... Im not the sort for 'dark historical romances'. Nice cover, though...

natalierenae said...

Good review. This book has received a lot of good reviews, but yours gave the best reason for your rating. Thanks for the post!

Mindful Musings Book Blog


prophecygirl said...

I'm looking forward to (eventually) reading this! It sounds good, and I love the retro style cover :)

Rebecca-Books said...

Great review.
I read this a couple of weeks ago and I actually really enjoyed it. I understand what you mean however. And I thought the same about the bra thing.
I love the cover too :D