22 September 2010

Book Review: Lovers and Liars by Nina Bell

Sophie Raven thought her life was pretty perfect. She is happily married to Harry, and together they have 3 gorgeous daughters, a lovely home and her photography career is pretty successful too. Her sister Jess on the other hand is the total opposite of Sophie. She can't settle in a job, hasn't ever had a serious boyfriend and dislikes her family quite strongly. But when the girls find out something threatens to destroy their family forever, they have to come together to protect their mother and work out how to deal with the tough situation. Will the family survive the shocking revelations, and what are the lies being hidden behind the scenes of the Raven family?

I read Nina Bell's last book Sisters-In-Law last year and loved it, so I was thrilled to receive  copy of Lovers and Liars this year. Even better than that, a quote from my review last year has made it onto the front page of this book too, I can't tell you how excited I was to notice that! Anyway, the cover of this book is quite striking with the black and purple cover, it would certainly catch my eye, and it sounds exactly like the sort of thing I enjoy reading, but do be aware it isn't light-hearted reading.

The book tackles the pretty difficult issue of domestic abuse, and the story becomes more apparent as the book progresses. This means the book isn't light reading at all, it can be  pretty difficult to read at times because of the nature of the storyline, but it is so well written and the issue is very well approached that you don't mind so much that the topic is difficult, and I feel Bell has done a great job in tackling this issue. I can imagine that if you have been affected by domestic abuse yourself this may well be a topic you will want to avoid, but I found I had a real curiosity about how Paige was eventually going to handle her situation and whether or not things would work out okay in the end.

The characters are all extremely well written, and although I found 2 of them very unlikeable, they added an element of realism to the story and added another dimension to it. Sophie, the elder daughter of Paige and Bill, is a very spoilt child, and I was shocked at how she sided with her father against her mother all the time, and it did cause me to get quite angry and frustrated of her because she couldn't see what was in front of her eyes, but that was the whole point really. She wasn't at all likeable, I didn't agree with any of her actions and hated her almost as much as the easily detestable Bill.

I found Paige, the woman at the end of the domestic abuse, quite difficult to like at first. I didn't understand why she reacted as she did, but it soon becomes clear and I felt very sorry for her by the end of the book. It really puts across what a terrible thing domestic abuse is and how the people stuck inside the situation can't see what is going on. It's very sad in parts to read, especially as things fall apart for Paige, but it's very realistic and that is what I enjoy about Nina Bell's books. The other character I really liked was Jess, although again she was a very naive character damaged by the relationship with her father.

I expect that Bell did a lot of research when she began to write this book as you get that feeling as you read more and more of the book, and it comes across in the confident way she writes about the issues. Yes, it is uncomfortable to read in parts because we can see as a reader exactly how Paige is being manipulated by her bully of a husband and she can't, and while it can be frustrating, it is also terribly sad. It certainly makes you realise how lucky you are to be in a stable home unit, and makes you think of those unlucky enough to be trapped like Paige is and ruled by her husband, usually unwittingly so. It is a very well written and crafted book that isn't easy reading, but is compulsive and gripping none the less. There's drama, emotion and a great story, what more could you ask for? Simply brilliant.

Rating: 5/5

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