The Book of Lies
Life on the tiny island of Guernsey has just become a whole lot harder for fifteen-year-old Cat Rozier. She’s gone from model pupil to murderer, but she swears it’s not her fault. Apparently it’s all the fault of history.
A new arrival at Cat’s high school in 1984, the beautiful and instantly popular Nicolette inexplicably takes Cat under her wing. The two become inseparable–going to parties together, checking out boys, and drinking whatever liquor they can shoplift. But a perceived betrayal sends them spinning apart, and Nic responds with cruel, over-the-top retribution.
Cat’s recently deceased father, Emile, dedicated his adult life to uncovering the truth about the Nazi occupation of Guernsey – from Churchill’s abandonment of the island to the stories of those who resisted – in hopes of repairing the reputation of his older brother, Charlie. Through Emile’s letters and Charlie’s words – recorded on tapes before his own death – a “confession” takes shape, revealing the secrets deeply woven into the fabric of the island… and into the Rozier family story.
The Book of Lies throws you in right at the deep end, so to speak, with Catherine Rozier’s confession that she killed her best friend, Nicolette. Despite this shocking revelation, Catherine soon proves to be an endearing character, despite her troubled life and tendency towards self pity. She runs through the events leading up to Nicolette’s death, and the narrative is interspersed with her father’s angry letters to the media and her uncle’s retelling of the Nazi occupation of Guernsey.
Although it is necessary to the plot, I did not expect the novel to go into such deep and frequent detail about the Nazi occupation, and I sometimes found it hard to concentrate and fully understand that line of narrative. This aspect of the plot is very interesting, and something I would like to learn more about, but it gave the novel a slight unfocused and scattered feeling.
I found the narrative voice enjoyable and easy to read, as Horlock’s skill in writing is shown in some of Catherine’s witty, funny or poignant thoughts and phrases. A slightly rude but hilarious example of this can be shown in Catherine’s opinions on sex: ‘I honestly cannot understand why God or Charles Darwin or whoever couldn’t have made the penis more attractive. Maybe given it bright feathers that fan out like a peacock, or made it a nice colour and gotten rid of all that hair around it.’ Catherine endearingly narrates events in her life such as her father’s death, purportedly due to a heart attack brought on by an infection from an untreated wound, her friendship with Nicolette and subsequent fall from grace, her dalliances with Donnie Golden and Mr Mccracken, and her forays into binge drinking, remarking how convenient it is to be able to simply vomit then carry on drinking.
The book ends just as explosively and abruptly as it began, with Catherine’s desperate plea to keep her involvement in Nicolette’s death a secret, and to reveal some secrets of her own.