Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The Truth According to Us - Annie Barrows

As I have had some time on my hands to just sit still for a few days, I gave the 482 pages of this book my all. My favourite book size is around 300 pages, so this was a smidge outside my comfort zone - but it didn't matter, I really loved it all.   And what a perfect title, because all of us see the truth of something in a slightly different way to the next person, and the book certainly reveals much in this wonderful read.
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Willa loves Felix her father, of course Jottie her aunt plus several other family members, but it's Felix she loves most.  Jottie loves Willa, her sister Bird and of course, Felix her brother.  Jottie is bringing up Felix's daughters, the mother has flown, and Felix is often on the road selling chemicals. The year is 1938, and into Macedonia, a small town in the state of Virginia comes Layla Beck, employed to write the history of the town.  It's she who will the the catalyst for truths to be told, loves to be lost and found, history to be re-written.
It was a glorious read, great chunks of it inhaled over a two day period.  The characters are so well-drawn, each has their flaws, their charms, their burdens. The truths that come out along the way will surprise you sometimes - but some of them will confirm your inklings of truth from earlier in the read.  Get to know all these characters, you are going to remember them I think! 
Written in an odd but for me a wonderful style - when Willa's talking it's first person, in Layla's case, her thoughts are often recorded in letters to family and friends, and for the other characters, well, they don't have their own voices, but they have plenty to tell you if you keep reading.  Sometimes Willa's first person voice will appear half way through a chapter, but I didn't find that disconcerting in any way.
Congratulations to Annie Barrows, who co-wrote The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society with her late aunt.  As they say across the pond - You nailed it!