Wednesday, 4 June 2014

We Were Liars - Emily Lockhart

The publicity campaign for Emily Lockhart's latest novel was so impressive and covered my twitter feed for days that it just had to be next on my reading list.

We Were Liars presents the Sinclair family who spend their summer holidays on their private island, Beechwood, gorging on delicious food in houses decorated floor to ceiling in opulence, taking boats out to sea and relaxing on private beaches - living beautiful, rich existences. Despite their seemingly perfect summers, however, the Sinclair family is rotting from within and it is only the three eldest grandchildren Johnny, Mirren and Cadence, and the fourth member of their clan, Gat, who seem to notice.

In 'summer fifteen' everything changes and as Cadence Sinclair attempts to piece together the truth about her accident, which is being kept secret from her, the suspense of the novel builds. The first person narrative of Cadence draws the reader into her amnesic, confused state, as the palpable tension in the prose makes it clear that something sinister has happened.

Drawing on various literary tropes and genres, including that of the star-crossed lovers and the fairy tale, Lockhart demonstrates an exquisitely refined art of story telling. With prose which is both sparse and succinct yet simultaneously lyrical and beautiful - poetic, even - Lockhart lures the reader in all sorts of directions before presenting one final plot twist.

We Were Liars is intriguing from beginning to end, even the front cover evokes a certain mystery; the dazzling sunlight that partially obscures the image and the movement of the water which is appropriated into the font design perfectly evoke the relationship between the blissful setting and the ominous confusion that epitomises the novel. It is often so tempting to just buy e-book versions of publications these days, but I think We Were Liars is a perfect example of the value print copies add to the reading experience and it is a shame for the creation of such cover work to be overlooked in favour of practicality and cost.


We Were Liars is the kind of novel that you read in one sitting and then immediately turn to the beginning to start again - perfect in length, yet over far too soon.

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