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1 August 2013

Review: 'Necessary Lies' by Diane Chamberlain (2013)

After losing her parents, fifteen-year-old Ivy Hart is left to care for her grandmother, older sister and nephew as tenants on a small tobacco farm.  As she struggles with her grandmother’s aging, her sister’s mental illness and her own epilepsy, she realizes they might need more than she can give.

When Jane Forrester takes a position as Grace County’s newest social worker, she doesn’t realize just how much her help is needed.  She quickly becomes emotionally invested in her clients' lives, causing tension with her boss and her new husband.  But as Jane is drawn in by the Hart women, she begins to discover the secrets of the small farm—secrets much darker than she would have guessed.  Soon, she must decide whether to take drastic action to help them, or risk losing the battle against everything she believes is wrong.

While I was on holiday I received a message from the lovely Becky at PanMacmillan to ask me whether I would perhaps be interested in reviewing Diane Chamberlain’s new release, ‘Necessary Lies.’ I wasn’t familiar with Diane Chamberlain, but I instantly loved the cover (the colour combination caught my attention straight away) and the blurb sounded really interesting and like something slightly different from my usual reads. So, on my train ride to work this week I brought ‘Necessary Lies’ with me, and ever since I’ve been stuck with my nose in it!

‘Necessary Lies’ focuses on two female characters living in the USA in the 1960’s. On the one hand, we have 15-year-old Ivy Hart who lives together with her grandmother, her sister Mary Ella and her young nephew William as tenants on a tobacco farm in Grace County, North Carolina. Life isn’t easy for Ivy; she lost her parents, her sister is not mentally stable, and her grandmother is finding it more difficult to deal with everyday life in general. Thankfully, she has Henry, the boy she is in love with, and their secret nightly meetings to get her through it all. Then there’s Jane Forrester; a 22-year-old newlywed who takes on her first job as a social worker. Jane is immediately introduced to a world she knew hardly anything about and she quickly gets emotionally invested in her clients’ lives, specifically the Hart family. However, it doesn’t take long before Jane finds herself surrounded by lies and secrets, and asking herself one main basic question, the question of what is right and what is wrong in life.

I was captivated by this novel from the very first page. It is incredibly well-written, and I was immediately fascinated by both Ivy and Jane. They are very different characters, but both bring an interesting and captivating storyline to the table. I really enjoyed how with each chapter the protagonist of the story changed, while at the same time the two perspectives were linked together continually. I particularly liked Jane; I loved her innocence at the beginning and how she develops into a strong woman who will do anything to fight for her beliefs and what she thinks is right.

‘Necessary Lies’ reminded me somewhat of Kathryn Stockett’s ‘The Help’: both novels are set in the USA in the 1960’s, focus on female protagonists, and are about women working together or helping one another with an important and controversial cause in mind. I loved ‘Necessary Lies’ just as much as I loved ‘The Help’. The story had me hooked and I didn’t want to put the novel down, but at the same time I didn’t want to get closer to the ending, because it would mean finishing the book. While I was reading, I found out there is actually a prequel to this novel, ‘The First Lie.’ I can’t wait to read it myself, but I believe you don’t need it to understand the novel. ‘Necessary Lies’ is an incredibly well-written and powerful read that will touch your heart and tells a story that will most like stay with you for a long, long time!

Be sure to keep an eye on this blog the upcoming days for an exclusive give-away of 3 copies of 'Necessary Lies' and an interview with Diane Chamberlain! 

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