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The lie
Helen Dunmore

I think we all gave a bit of a collective sigh when we realised The Lie was yet another WWI book. But in fact it was so much more than that, and really was a post-war book. Daniel, returned from the trenches having survived, keeps seeing the ghost of his dead comrade and childhood friend Frederick. Back in Cornwall he lives with old Mary Pascoe until she pops her clogs and he buries her on the hill as per her request. Then we have the friendship between Daniel and Felicia, Frederick’s sister, who lives with her child in the Big House with only the tattle tale midwife/babysitter for occasional company. From this rather thin premise we actually got a rather good book. The relationship between Daniel and Frederick was at first strong, and then with overtones of homosexuality – though only realised through one short kiss – and then the manipulation of Daniel by Frederick and the implicit clash between upper and working class men on the battlefield. Daniel and Felicia’s friendship was also sparse and unconsummated but very touching. And although the ending was never in doubt the part where the villagers began up the road like a trail of ants towards his cottage was quite chilling, although the ultimate ending – Daniel takes Frederick’s ghost hand and they both jump off the cliff to where they were possibly happies t as children (possibly when they’d been physically closest) leaving poor Felicia to be lumped off with the oafish farmer vying for her hand.

All very understated, a lot implied but not spoken out loud, and more about relationships and how folk cope with the aftermath and alienation of those undergoing the stress of war.


Publication Information

Publisher: Hutchinson
ISBN: 9780091953928



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