A book I couldn't put down; one that kept me on the edge of my seat from the very beginning.
From time to time we all hope to come across a book which we can’t put down; one that keeps us interested and on the edge of our seat from the very beginning. We read and read, and then as it gets to the end we slow down and savour each and every word because we don’t want it to stop, but we also desperately want to know what happens to the people we have grown to love. Big Lies in a Small Town was all this for me and more.
Set in North Carolina in 2018, Morgan Christopher is in jail for a crime she didn’t commit. Two women pay her a visit and make her an offer she can’t refuse: Restore an old post office mural and she will permanently be released from prison. Unfortunately, Morgan has no idea how to restore a piece of art, even though she has studied art at college and once had dreams of becoming an artist herself. But most importantly, it must be restored in a very short time period. Will she be able to fulfil these conditions, who is her benefactor and why was she chosen to complete this seemingly impossible task?
Thus begins a tale of murder and intrigue as Diane Chamberlain interweaves the story of Morgan with the life of the original artist, Anna Dale, in 1940. Anna wins a national contest to paint a mural for a small-town post office in Edenton, North Carolina. She is desperate for work and finds herself in the middle of a town where prejudice is rife and there are secrets everywhere.
I was totally invested in both their lives, each tragic for a different reason. Morgan is desperate to find out why Anna disappeared from the face of the earth and why the mural was never put on display. Will she find clues as she begins to restore the painting?
I loved the way Chamberlain has given us many parallels between the two woman. As we find out information in 2018, the story continues to develop in 1940, and we learn more about each of their lives.
Each chapter is short, and it is all too easy to think I’ll read “just one more”. The two main characters are driven by a different need, but both are still answerable to others. They must learn to be true to themselves and lessons learned along the way help them understand who they truly are.
Both women are a force in their own time and determined to succeed in a world of prejudice run by powerful people.
This story is well written, full of passion, romance and intrigue with strong well-developed characters and I look forward to reading more stories from this New York Times best selling author of 26 novels.
Reviewed by Sue Mauger
Distributed by: Pan Macmillan Australia
Released: January 2020
RRP: $29.99 trade paperback, $39.99 hardcover, $14.99 eBook