The White Lie

Andrea Gillies, Author
Andrea Gillies. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Mariner, $14.95 trade paper (464p) ISBN 978-0-544-06103-3
Reviewed on: 09/02/2013
Release date: 12/03/2013
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-78072-039-5
Hardcover - 1 pages - 978-1-4074-9897-3
Open Ebook - 464 pages - 978-0-547-52661-4
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-306-13620-4
Open Ebook - 242 pages - 978-1-78072-052-4
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Memoirist Gillies’s (Keeper) debut novel is an engaging saga about the Salter clan, loosely narrated by Michael from beyond the grave. He vanishes under mysterious circumstances as a young man at his family’s ancestral compound in Scotland. Traveling back and forth in time, Michael unravels the family’s tangled history, beginning with his idiosyncratic Aunt Ursula’s shocking confession about what happened during an altercation between her and him. Michael foreshadows the sinister tale by musing, “It’s reassuring when history doesn’t present variations; it feels as if memory is confirming itself as the facts, achieving a kind of objectivity.” Family members, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, weave their own versions of what transpired, each with shaded perceptions securely tucked away from the others. The passage of time only serves to embalm the enigma of his disappearance and underscores how much—or little—the family knows of one another. Years later, the group converges to celebrate a milestone birthday, and the reunion serves as a catalyst for dialogue about the family’s murky past. Gillies’s atmospheric prose perfectly complements this engrossing drama set against a creepy loch. (Dec.)
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