White Lies by Susan BarrettPublisher: Create Space (August 30, 2016)
Category: Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction; Contemporary Fiction; Family Saga
Tour Date: April/May, 2017
Available in: Print & ebook, 164 Pages
The story is told from three perspectives: that of Beth, the natural mother of Tess, Liz, the adoptive mother, and Tess herself. The reader’s sympathy is engaged with each woman in turn, as the intricacies of the plot demonstrate how nature and nurture interplay in the formation of personality. Beth is a guest at a wedding. The bride is Tess, her natural daughter, who’d been adopted as a baby. During the moments leading up to the marriage ceremony, Beth remembers the lifetime events that have led to her present state of sick fear. Recent revelations have made her suspect that the bridegroom is the first child she’d given up for adoption, and therefore Tess’s half-brother. Will she speak of this impediment to matrimony, as invited by the priest, or forever hold her peace? White Lies gives the answer in a way that reveals the complexities of truth-telling in the context of parenthood and adoption. An entertaining page-turner, the novel also traces the social changes in family life over the last fifty years.
Praise for White Lies by Susan Barrett"A beautifully written study of motherhood, loss and what makes us who we are. The characters are deftly drawn and the writer clearly knows her subject. The narrative is expertly woven and fast-paced, delivering pain and joy blow by blow. Sharp and incisive, heartbreaking and so relevant to today."-Vanessa de Haan
“A beautifully written, sensitive, yet amusing, and intriguing, tale around a subject that is rarely covered in literature. A delight to read.”- Amazon Customer
“This is a gripping read. It is not only relevant to those who have been involved in adoption but to all of us. It raises questions about families, about the fragility and power of maternal bonds, about love and disappointment. It charts with particular accuracy the difficulties of the tangled web of secrecy and complication that was characteristic of adoption in the mid-twentieth century. It keeps you guessing to the very end!”-Sally Woods
“I'm looking forward to seeing how the book group I belong to find this. I was quickly gripped by it, feeling for the central characters, all of them very real. I partly wanted to read slowly to enjoy it, confident there would be a satisfying, un-folding, but partly wanted to race to find out what happened. Will enjoy reading it again.”-Amazon Customer
Describe the room you are sitting in as though it was a scene in “White Lies”.
This is an appetising invitation – a question that is fun to respond to. I will see my study through Beth’s eyes. As I am a counsellor as well as a fiction writer, Beth has come to consult with me. Here goes.
“Susan led me through the hall and then stood back so that I had to go into the room ahead of her. That put me out. I’d much rather she’d gone in first. It reminded me of Putney swimming pool and that moment when you stand shivering on the edge of the water when you’re all white and goose-fleshy from taking off your clothes in the changing room. You wonder if all that bright blue chloriney water is going to be cold or what to my mind is far worse, too warm. Susan’s study is an okay temperature. That first time, it was me who was too hot. There I was sitting in an armchair, in my prickly polo neck sweater which I shouldn’t have chosen to wear, and there was her sitting opposite me, all eyes on me. Thank blessed Mary, as my ma would have said, I could look out of the big window on my left at the view. Some view, too. Not that I took it in on my first visit. It was months before I actually saw what was out there: her garden full of shrubs and flowers and a green lawn sloping away to fields and way down to the river in the valley. Beyond that you can see lines of hills dipping into one another, growing fainter, away into the far distance. On a clear day you can see Dartmoor, she told me once. By then I was greedy for any scraps of information she gave away. Few and far between, I can tell you. And that’s as it should be when you go for counselling. You don’t want them to be jabbering away at you. That’s your privilege.
It took me several sessions to settle down. It’s a very quiet room with a pale, greeny blue carpet; it makes me feel like curling up and going to sleep, except nowadays I want to stay awake and tell Susan everything, all about what happened right from the beginning, all the way up to now and my 60th birthday. To begin with, I wasn’t a bit used to talking about myself. There was a lot of silence which I tried to fill by commenting on the furniture in the study. My remarks got no response so I gave up when I realised that counselling is not like conversation.
Susan helped me realise a hell of a lot of things. She sits in the corner with the window on her right. On her left is her desk. It goes all along the wall to the far corner. An office chair, the sort that swivels, is pushed into the place where knees can go, and on either side there are drawers and cupboards. On the wall at the back of the desk there is a pinboard with lots of bits of paper pinned to it which I’d dearly like to look at closely to see what she’s up to. The desk itself has nothing on it but a big black box of a computer, a screen and a keyboard. Susan once let on that she’s a writer (oo, I hope I never appear in any of her books) and that she clears her desk of papers when she sees people for counselling. Apart from the desk, my chair opposite hers, and a tall bookshelf, there’s nothing else in the room. Except pictures – I nearly forgot. I have never had time to look at them properly because I’m always talking, telling Susan every blessed thing that’s happened to me in my life – about Tess, and Michael, and all the troubles I’ve had – but I did manage to count them once, when she went to get more tissue hanks – I’d cried so much, I’m afraid. There are eleven pictures in that tiny room. Eleven! I ask you. But then, her husband is an artist, and so is her son. So what do you expect? Sad thing is, I have never had a chance to look at them properly. The hour is always up and Susan is strict about time-keeping. There’s no dawdling or chat. I’m out and away on my own until next week.”