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5.0 out of 5 starsExcellent teen-noir
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 14 September 2009
I recently read this one on holiday between longer novels and it hit the spot perfectly. Evie's mother is a girl who likes the men, and her husband, Joe, is something of a rogue and always coming up with schemes that don't quite work. Evie thinks the pair of them very glamorous, but at the same time she is resentful, particularly of her more experienced mother, who just needs to look and the men come running. The family take off to Florida in pursuit of another of Joe's schemes and events rapidly take a turn for the sour. There's a suspicious death and suddenly Evie and Joe are in the dock for murder. Evie has to make a choice, neatly summed up by the novel's title. This is a fine book, redolent with the feel of late 1940's America. It's one of those books that has the knack of making the reader feel they are actually there, but the detail, although very sensory, is painted in a controlled way that never becomes overblown. I also have to say that the strong packaging added to the appeal. 5 stars!
I spent three years of my life dreading power outages, but I must say, I am truly grateful for the one I had yesterday.It allowed me to reread what was one of my most favorite books as a fifteen year-old. What I Saw and How I Lied is a brief, yet complex tale of growing up.
What I loved most about the novel was that it turns the widespread notion that the years following World War II were a golden age on its head. In fact, it works in an almost Gatsby way: Evie starts out the novel with a bright, childish, innocence about her, and her experiences allow her to think twice about the world around her.
“I loved him like a fever. Then he left. He kicked through love like it was dust and he kept on walking.”
First, I must say that Blundell has a way with words- she has a way on inserting little flowery (prose wise) moments throughout the novel while still making allowing Evie's voice to shine through. If it wan't for Blundell's skill, this book would not be nearly as a good or as powerful.
“Darling, I have a tip," Arlene said. "Never, ever wait for a man.”
What I Saw and How I Lied is also a tragic love story- yes, in the conventional sense-> between a girl and a boy. But it also has a lot to do with the love between husband and wife, daughter and mother, daughter and father, and in some ways, a man and a woman. Throughout the novel, Evie struggles to figure out what real love is why trying to become an adult.
"But while I'd be their daughter, while I'd eat the roast and come home from dates and wash the dishes, I would also be myself. I would love my mother, but I'd never want to be her again. I would never be what someone else wanted me to be. I would never laugh at a joke I didn't think was funny. I would never tell another lie. I would be the truth-teller, starting today. That would be tough. But I was tougher.”
There is also a serious Gone Girl quality to this book: it's unpredictable, and it's characters fluctuate between downright ugly and downright cruel. You never known when the truth will rear it's nasty head, and makes for an exciting, interesting read.
I have wanted to read 'What I Saw and How I Lied' by Judy Blundell as soon as I finished reading 'No Strings Attached'. I was amazed in so many ways by that book and here I am again! I know how Judy Blundell does it. This is a totally different story but she worked her magic again.
The story starts out a simply coming of age story and slowly at first and then a fever pitch turns into a story with suspense, murder, adultery and ends without knowing who did it. Few books can do that without making you feel cheated. But this one did.
The main character is Evie Spooner who seems very naïve at first but aching to grow up. Then she had some experiences that she shouldn't have to deal with at her age. She was only 15 years old bonded closely with her mother but wondered why she seemed to hold her back when it came to putting on makeup and dating. Her step father, Joe Spooner, seems like a pretty good guy, standing up for her and protecting her when needed. But how much does she really know about her parents? Can she really trust them? Were they "normal"?
Into life comes Peter Coleridge, 23 years old, an ex -GI who served under her father in WWII. Why doesn't her father like him? Why does her mother act the way she does when Peter is there? The family meets Peter on a trip to Palm Beach, a vacation trip that each one of them wished they had never gone on.
This book brings up many questions about parents, secrets and trust. Plus the story starts twist and twist as revelations about the parents and more are disclosed. I really enjoyed this book and have lots more things to think about. Ethical questions abound in this book.
This is the kind of book you want to curl up with and read cover to cover without stopping. Judy Blundell is a master storyteller, but this novel is compelling for other reasons — for its ability to make you consider moral questions without trying too hard. They are simply woven into the fabric of the book.