What would you do if you saw a girl in a crowd whose face had the same, identical birthmark as your only child? A child who, nearly ten years ago, you were told died? It’s 1935 and housewife Emma glimpses a face in a crowd – a little girl with a very unique birthmark. Transfixed by the sight of a stranger; Emma becomes convinced that the girl is her long-lost daughter taken from her at birth. There is only one problem: Emma’s daughter is dead. So who is the stranger? THE LIAR follows Emma’s journey as she tries to find out what really happened to her daughter – a journey that unearths secrets from the past and ends in obsession…
The theme of the book might not be entirely original, but I’ve always loved this type of stories. Emma is a thirty-something woman, married to a man she doesn’t really love. She lives tortured by the past: nine years ago, her newborn baby Violet died. But in 1935 she spots a girl with the same birthmark as her daughter. How can it be? Did her daughter really die or could she be alive?
In terms of the structure, the novel is narrated by Emma and the girl, Ruby. Emma tells us about her present struggles trying to reconnect with the girl she thinks is her daughter and, at the same time, she remembers how her life was before the pregnancy (and that is a fascinating story). What I found most curious about Jennifer’s writing is that Ruby starts every chapter saying: “My name is Ruby Brown but… ” You’ll see how that goes 😉
As for the characters, the truth is that the book featured really bad people. I couldn’t believe some of the stuff they did. Particularly, there was a certain detail that was revealed in one of the final chapters… Well, I began to suspect it a couple of chapters before they actually said it and I’m not going to lie, it took me a while to digest. It was both depressing and brilliant (for the sake of the story).
Also, it’s weird and I know they don’t even share the same location (UK vs US) or era (30s vs 60s) but the type of characters and the focus on children made me think of The Education of Dixie Dupree…. Both are amazing reads, although this one doesn’t cover such “heavy” topics.
You might look at the cover and read the blurb and you might not think that this is your typical modern thriller… but I can assure you: fans of psychological thrillers will absolutely love this one. Tell me when you’ve reached the ending.
What I liked the most
This book had one of the greatest third acts ever. The ending left me completely speechless and I wasn’t even expecting to be surprised. I thought this would be a very different kind of story, but it was so much more.
What I didn’t like that much
The book was set in 1935 and 1925, I guess because of the DNA factor. However, as much as I love historical fiction and the beginning of the XX century, I didn’t feel I was reading a story set around those times. I don’t know why, I just felt like it all could have happened now. There was also a section in the middle where my interest decreased a bit, but fortunately, the fabulous ending made up for it.
The Liar is a surprisingly dark and mysterious psychological thriller that just keeps getting better and better.
Aria, 2016 – Netgalley