Readers' Favorite

Featured Post

Reflections on the #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I discussed different book genres/categories. Each day, I gave a few details about the genre/catego...

January 18, 2020

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain ~ Review

by Susan Roberts

"She'd never really had any yearning to travel south of the Mason-Dixon line and she was glad she'd only be here for a few days.  The South seemed backward to her.  Segregated schools and ridiculous laws about keeping colored and white apart on buses and at water fountains and in restrooms."  (p 14  Anna in 1940)

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

January 2020; St. Martin's Press; 978-1250087331
audio, ebook, print (400 pages); women's fiction
Diane Chamberlain has been one of my favorite authors since I read Necessary Lies in 2013.  Diane lives in North Carolina and most of her novels take place in this state.  Her characters are always so well written that they feel like people you know in your life and you wonder what happened to them after the novel ended.  Diane's new book Big Lies in a Small Town continues her streak of fantastic novels that will be popular among readers.  My prediction is that this book will end up on most of the 'best books of January 2020' lists.

Big Lies in a Small Town is a dual narrative novel that takes place in Edenton, North Carolina.  The main character in the 1940 narrative is Anna Dale and the main character in 2018 is Morgan Christopher.

1940 - Anna is an artist from NJ and has won a contest to paint a mural on the post office in Edenton.  She is unsure whether she'll be accepted in the town - not only is she an outsider, she is also a female artist who won the contest over the local good-old-boy artist who the town loves.  As Anna tries to fit in, she makes numerous missteps in the eyes of the town.  She allowed a young black painter to help her with some of the work on the mural along with the 2 white students.  One of the town leaders tells her "You don't belong here, little lady...You don't fit in, you could live here twenty years and you still wouldn't fit in." (p 188)  As Anna's work on the mural progresses, an act of violence and the lack of acceptance from the town make her change her attitude toward the town and her mural.

2018  - As the novel begins, Morgan is serving a three-year sentence in the NC Women's Correctional Center.  Her life and her dreams for the future have been de-railed and she isn't sure what the future will bring.  She studied art in college and had plans to work in the field but a past mistake has changed her plans.  One day a visitor shows up and offers her early release from prison if she will restore an old mural that had never been completed and had been stuffed into a closet for almost 80 years.  Even though she knows nothing about art restoration, she agrees to take the job to get out of prison.  She has a very short timeline and a lot of pressure to get the restoration completed but she accepts the challenge.  As she cleans the painting, she finds several unsettling images in it and works to discover more about Anna Dale to try and find out why she painted the mural the way she did and why it was never completed.

Often times in dual narratives, I find that I like one storyline better than the other but in this novel, I was equally interested in both stories and curious to see what the outcome would be for both Anna and Morgan.

It is a page-turner and I found myself up way past bedtime to find out the answers to all of my questions.  The two strong but flawed females in this novel address the issues of racism, abusive family situations, mental illness, injustice and the deeply seated prejudices in a small town.

Diane Chamberlain has added another book to her list of fantastic novels.  I finished the book a week ago and am still thinking about Anna and Morgan and this fantastic novel.

Here's another little tease -  "I stared down at the mural where it lay on the tile floor of the gallery foyer.  I saw the tremendous damage- the grime and scratches and huge sections of abraded paint that nearly masked the images on the canvas."  (p 50  Morgan in 2018)

Buy Big Lies in a Small Town at Amazon

Other Favorite Books by Diane Chamberlain:
The Dream Daughter    See Review here.
The Stolen Marriage     See Review here.
Pretending to Dance
Necessary Lies

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling. She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter

Get even more book news in your inbox, sign up today! Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.