Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The White Lie by Andrea Gillies

Another winner!
Another book previously unheard of and chosen at random from the library shelves.
Another book to add to my best reads of the year.

"So many of our assumptions in life are based on the things people tell each other, but the things people tell each other can all too easily amount only to a line of mythology, misinterpreting itself successively through the generations uncontested."

The setting is Scotland, at Peattie, an isolated, once grand, now crumbling estate which is the home of the Salter family. Fourteen years earlier, on a hot summer's afternoon Ursula Salter had run sobbing from the loch and confessed that she had killed Michael, her 19-year-old nephew. No body was found! Ursula's story is full of contradictions and in order to protect her, the Salters come up with their own version of events, a decision that some of them will live to regret.

The narrator is Michael who from his unique position beyond the grave has the ability to see past events as they happened and from the different perspectives of individual characters. Moving back and forth in time he gradually brings forth the stories of each family member. Half-truths and misinterpretations, misunderstandings and lies.........lots of lies. The more so-called truth that is revealed the less one knows who to believe. Even Michael appears to lie!

There are many characters, most of them related, none of them particularly likeable, yet some, like Edith and Henry, aroused feelings of understanding and compassion which gave me the emotional connection I so need. Others like their daughters Ottilie , Joan and the very 'strange' Ursula , and the grandchildren, provide the sibling rivalries and jealousies to be found in all families. Edith's mother, Vita, a very old lady, adds moments of humour...

' " House parties all summer, which were of course entirely about sex."
"Surely not."
"Oh yes, oh my, yes. The late 20's. The early 30's. I'm not a Victorian, you know, despite appearing ancient. We post-war girls - post-Great War I mean - were highly progressive. We thought ourselves terribly daring and modern. Course, it was really only in the upper classes. The peasantry I'm not sure about; they've always been rather slyly liberated."

Beautifully written and with a wonderfully descriptive atmosphere The White Lie moves slowly to the final revelations. An intense and moving story which kept me engrossed right to the end.
Loved it!!  


  1. I wrote this one down! I'm catching up because I have been sick. I'm jealous of how fast you read. Is that normal? :-) I have book envy!

    1. What I mean is - is it normal to be jealous of how fast one reads? I am not asking if you are normal! ha!

    2. Ha! I don't think you need to be jealous as it's more about time than speed. Now we're retired I have lots of that to spend reading. A few years back I would have envied me too! I hope you feel better very soon!