Lydia Rushford’s normal, some would say idyllic, life is overshadowed by an event from her past. She has moved from Norfolk to Surrey and is now married with two teenage children. She is a loving and somewhat overprotective mother to her own children and can barely tolerate her own mother at times.
She regrets never telling her husband about it, and now it has festered and grown in her mind. “The lie“. A youthful indiscretion coupled with her mother’s resulting shame have exacerbated the event until it has seeped into every portion of Lydia’s life. The secret, the lie, is revealed to the reader rather early on in the book. It was a distressing event, but in my opinion was not so life-shattering as Lydia perceives it to be. Her mother’s reaction to the event has a profound effect on Lydia’s psyche. She has changed her home county, her name, and created a life where no one will suspect her shameful past.
Now Sean McAllister, her boyfriend from back then, has moved into her Surrey neighbourhood and Lydia feels as though her world could implode at any minute. The tension she feels ruins her burgeoning relationship with Sean’s wife Katya, and threatens her relationship with her beloved son Jamie – because Jamie is attracted to Sean’s daughter, Eleanor. What a quagmire!
Lydia’s long suffering husband Mark is a ‘reliable guy’. He seems steady, dependable, and a great Dad. He designs and installs custom kitchens. His new and biggest client is… of course…. Sean. Sean’s business is essential to the family’s finances and will have an effect upon whether the children remain at private school.
Lydia is an event planner. Weddings mostly. She is becoming more and more successful in her career and wins a prestigious award for her efforts. At the award gala she meets an intriguing Italian named Tomaso. When she is hired to plan a wedding in Florence, Italy she yearns for the escape from her stress-filled life this will afford her.
Lydia’s mother, Dorothy, is ‘old-school’. Her longing to be perceived well by society has skewed her vision and actions for so long that she is now somewhat dour, shallow, and snobbish. Unfortunately, Lydia is still deeply under her influence, much to her chagrin. In her early forties, and still Lydia is trying to appease her mother.
“My mother was so negative, it was astonishing she didn’t show up as a silhouette in photos”.
The family dog, Mabel, is incorrigible and badly behaved. She does offer some added levity to the plot, as she doesn’t understand about living life in moderation.
“My mother gave Mabel a sharp belt on her bottom. I saw Mabel’s lip curl. For a dog who would happily share a pack of custard creams with a burglar before leading him to my jewelry box, it was proof positive that my mother pushed everyone to their limits.”
This is a domestic drama, some would say thriller. Although packed with tension, I would not really term it a thriller. The tension was entirely of Lydia’s making in my opinion. I was increasingly impatient with her throughout the novel. If only she would ‘come clean’ with her family. It was as though she was her own worst enemy. This is compounded by the fact that her current indiscretions far outweigh her past ones.
There are many things I liked about this novel. The humor for one. The author relays Lydia’s thoughts with a sarcastic wit that I really enjoyed. The story moved along at a steady pace and kept my interest throughout. I was invested in finding out what would happen to the family when the ‘lie’ was eventually exposed, as I was sure it would. While reading, I wished Lydia would realize just how lucky she was, instead of wanting the unobtainable. I got my wish.
“After the lie” is a domestic novel of an imperfect family in the modern age. A time when parents and grandparents often have VERY different approaches to parenting. Of social media and how it has impacted parenting, and, of regret at not cherishing ‘the little things’ when you had the chance…
Most of all, it is about how, ironically, we can damage those we love the most by thinking we are shielding our loved ones from damage.
This domestic drama will be enjoyed by readers who enjoy believable, relate-able, and well fleshed-out characters as they cope with life’s sometimes unexpected challenges. It explores how futile it is to try to protect your children from everything. How unwise choices can have far-reaching repercussions. How honesty really IS the best policy. An appealing and easy read. Recommended.
I received a digital copy of this novel from Bookouture via NetGalley in consideration of my review.
Like her protagonist Lydia, Kerry Fisher lives in Surrey with her husband, two teenage children and her labrador dog.
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