The Truth According to Us: A Novel by Annie Barrows
I was somewhat nervous starting Barrows’ new book. I loved her book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society so much, it was all I could do not to get my hopes up so high that nothing could meet them.
No worries – this ended up being a fantastic and satisfying read. By the end of the first chapter, I was hooked on the story, and I wanted to know what was going on behind the scenes, and what had happened in the past. The characters are compelling – it’s impossible to pick a favorite – there were so many fantastic ones: Jottie, Willa, Layla, the twins…
The setting is crucial to the story, and you’ll feel the crushing heat of summer throughout the book. I was so engrossed in the time period and location that I kept expecting to find myself sweltering in West Virginia longing for a break from the summer temperatures.
There are a few letters included, but the majority of the book is not written in an epistolary format (so don’t despair if you don’t like that structure; it’s minimal). It was enough to be just another bonus for me, since that’s one of my favorite styles.
I don’t re-read much, but this is one that I think I will. There’s so much going on, and so many layers, that I’m looking forward to a second reading to more fully appreciate how she structured it and wove all the elements together.
While I read an electronic copy, this is one where I wonder if the physical book would be easier to read – the narrative switches between first person and third person, and includes those occasional letters. Initially I had to adjust to the alternating points-of-view, and there was no real formatting variation to help with that in the electronic version. Not a reason to avoid the book, just a heads-up that it may take some getting used to.
Highly recommended. I think it would make a great book club choices as well – there would be lots to discuss. It’s a long book, but it’s easy to read and felt much shorter than it really was.
From the co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society comes a wise, witty, and exuberant novel, perfect for fans of Lee Smith, that illuminates the power of loyalty and forgiveness, memory and truth, and the courage it takes to do what’s right.
Annie Barrows once again evokes the charm and eccentricity of a small town filled with extraordinary characters. Her new novel, The Truth According to Us, brings to life an inquisitive young girl, her beloved aunt, and the alluring visitor who changes the course of their destiny forever.
In the summer of 1938, Layla Beck’s father, a United States senator, cuts off her allowance and demands that she find employment on the Federal Writers’ Project, a New Deal jobs program. Within days, Layla finds herself far from her accustomed social whirl, assigned to cover the history of the remote mill town of Macedonia, West Virginia, and destined, in her opinion, to go completely mad with boredom. But once she secures a room in the home of the unconventional Romeyn family, she is drawn into their complex world and soon discovers that the truth of the town is entangled in the thorny past of the Romeyn dynasty.
At the Romeyn house, twelve-year-old Willa is desperate to learn everything in her quest to acquire her favorite virtues of ferocity and devotion—a search that leads her into a thicket of mysteries, including the questionable business that occupies her charismatic father and the reason her adored aunt Jottie remains unmarried. Layla’s arrival strikes a match to the family veneer, bringing to light buried secrets that will tell a new tale about the Romeyns. As Willa peels back the layers of her family’s past, and Layla delves deeper into town legend, everyone involved is transformed—and their personal histories completely rewritten.
Title: The Truth According to Us: A Novel
Author: Annie Barrows
Release Date: June 9, 2015
My Rating: 5 Stars
Disclosure: I received this book for free via NetGalley for review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!