The Lies They Tell, Gillian French: Review

I have heard very little about The Lies They Tell, and after reading it I realised I have a lot of thoughts I needed to process. So here I am having raced to my laptop fuelled only by lots of cups of tea this morning and words at my fingertips raring to go.

I shall inform you now that there will be spoilers within this review. But because I’m a lovely reviewer who caters for both those who can’t wait to know, and those who want to find out themselves, I am going to split this review in two. The first being a general overview and the second half having all those juicy bits – in the words of Hannah Montana it is the best of both worlds.

So, The Lies They Tell by Gillian French centralises around Pearl – a quick witted girl working at the Country Club of her town, where during the summer months is overrun by the upper class visiting their holiday homes on “millionaire’s row”. However, this summer comes with its added challenges for Pearl as her father is ruined after one of the elite families die in an arson attack during his shift as a caretaker.

It was the initial premise of this book that drew me in. I love a story that keeps me guessing and I am an absolute sucker for an enemies to more plot (all hail the original star crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet) which the class divides in this story promised. Unfortunately, that promise fell flat.

Firstly, there was three potential love interests for our leading lady. Three! Personally, it felt a little like ‘this is my main character and I need to show she’s likeable after all’. Despite this, I actually did like Pearl – she felt honest and real and she has a very unexpected type of humour about her. I feel like this could have been explored further through her rather than the amount of males that was present in this book (honestly even none romantic it was extremely male dominated). One of the reasons I believe this was stunted was through the narrative choice. Despite the novel clearly being focused on Pearl’s perspective it was written in third person which halted some of the personal insights I was looking for. Furthermore, the dialogue was few and far between so the description felt like it was being drawn out.

This leads me to another issue I had with the book – the pacing. I don’t think anything actually happened? I don’t wish to sound overly negative but despite finishing this book in one sitting I think it was more me trying to find some type of action rather than being so enthralled I couldn’t put it down. I suppose if you like an easy read that you don’t necessarily have to think too hard about then this could be an excellent ‘filler’ book so to speak.

Overall, I liked the idea of this book more than its actual execution. I really enjoyed the rich vs working class dynamic and the setting of the Country Club was actually rather interesting. It was relieving to read a character that felt so relatable in her work environment and it really helped ground the novel. However, as already said, the pacing and narrative distracted from the plot and wasn’t the one for me.

Ok, overview over! If you’re like me (the neighbour peering over the garden fence if you will) you’ll be ready for the spoiler section.

As hinted at above – there was three love interests for Pearl. She loves her best friend Reece who doesn’t feel the same way (honestly loved their dynamic as friends and so wish authors actually wrote platonic friendships as it would have suited them better in my opinion). One of the elite family’s and posh boy Bridges (seriously that’s his name) takes a fancy to her indifference, and then there’s Tristan who’s family died in the fire (Gillian French actually hints that they have a deeper understanding that could blossom and I was SO here for it. That ‘we’re different but get each other’ vibe).

Now Bridges it turns out is rather bloody lack lustre and a bit of a sleaze (choosing her to get over his previous girlfriend – the dead sister of Tristan who actually he was having an affair with). Now that sounds juicy and interesting when put like that but French’s delivery of this takes out all the excitement and revelry of it.

But it is Tristan I have the main issue with. He has a few vulnerable moments with Pearl that hinted he was going to be a more three dimensional character with layers I could really get my teeth stuck into. But no. Turns out he organised the arson on his family anyway despite being the main suspect but with no real reason or motive and suddenly all previous emotion from him has disappeared. This reveal was so utterly disappointing – not necessarily because I expected it but because I wanted more. I really thought the big reveal was going to be some twist I never saw coming but this was just me holding onto hope that was not to be.

Seriously! Tristan’s reason for killing his entire family was that his rich father was mean to him (shocker) and his sister was protecting their younger brother who accidentally has video evidence of his plans (like that’s it). The actual details feel far fetched and slightly unbelievable but again, it was the delivery of all this information that made it expected and dare I say it – slightly dull. Ultimately my hopes for this book were higher than it could deliver which is a shame as again, the premise was there… the execution wasn’t.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

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