22 May 2013
Review: 'The Lying Game' by Tess Stimson (2013)
Harriet Lockwood has never really bonded with her daughter, Florence, the way she has with her three sons. Then one day, she discovers why. The girl she’s raised for the last fifteen years is not her biological child.
Zoey Sands is a single mother with a chaotic lifestyle. The one constant in her life is her daughter, Nell. Nothing can ever come between them – can it?
When Harriet turns up on Zoey’s doorstep demanding to see her biological daughter, the two families are plunged into a storm of bitter rivalries… and unexpected alliances.
I was really excited when I found a review copy from the lovely people at Pan MacMillan of Tess Stimson’s ‘The Lying Game’ in my mailbox. Not only had the attractive cover already caught my eye a few times (I love the intense blue of the woman’s skirt, the red high heels, and the touch of drama added by the falling wine glass), but I had never read anything by Tess Stimson before, while I’ve heard good things. This review copy of ‘The Lying Game’ therefore provided me with the ideal opportunity to sit down with a hopefully great novel and to be introduced to a new author at the same time!
Harriet Lockwood seems to have the perfect life: she is married to the love of her life, Oliver, with whom she has four children (one daughter, three sons); she has a PR job which she loves; and she lives in a beautiful house in rural Vermont. However, somehow Harriet has never really bonded with her teenage daughter Florence. Somewhere deep down it is therefore not a complete surprise when Harriet discovers her biological daughter and Florence were switched at birth. At the other side of the world, Zoey Sands lives together with her daughter Nell in a small, messy London flat. Zoey’s already slightly chaotic life is completely turned upside down when she receives a letter from the hospital stating her daughter Nell is not her biological child. Harriet, Zoey and their families are taken on an emotional rollercoaster ride as they try to deal with the switch and what this means for each and every one of them and their futures.
Within the first 40 pages of this novel, the reader is invited to have a look at the lives of the Lockwood’s and the Sands’, from the perspectives of mothers Harriet and Zoey, and daughters Florence and Nell. It doesn’t take long before the switched-at-birth incident comes to the light and together with the characters in the novel I was taken on a heavily emotional and unpredictable journey. The subject of babies being accidentally switched at birth in the hospital is a controversial topic that has been discussed in various ways over the years (perhaps some of you are familiar with the American TV show ‘Switched at Birth’). Tess Stimson deals with the issue in a realistic and interesting way, especially by not simply writing from one point of view but using the perspectives of numerous characters: both mothers (Harriet & Zoey), both daughters (Florence & Nell), and also a male standpoint from Harriet’s husband, Oliver. I personally thought this really added another layer to the story, because the experience is different for each individual character with a world of emotions behind it. Because the novel is not that long (approximately 300 pages), this did result in some seemingly hurried scenes every now and again. While some people might like the fast pace of this novel, I found myself wishing there were perhaps another 100 pages extra to get to know the characters just that little bit better.
While reading I found myself not wanting to put this novel down for even a single second. The term ‘emotional rollercoaster’ is one that definitely applies when it comes to this book. This is of course linked to the controversial topic, but also has to do with the way Tess Stimson manages to introduce new enthralling elements every few pages. If you are looking for a simple light summer read, I would not recommend this book. But if you are looking for an absorbing, thought-provoking, fast-paced chick lit novel, then definitely pick this up... You will not be disappointed!