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White Lie by Andrea Gillies

White Lie (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Andrea Gillies

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758160,370 (3.63)7
Title:White Lie
Authors:Andrea Gillies
Info:Short Books (2012), Paperback, 576 pages
Collections:Your library

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The White Lie by Andrea Gillies (2012)



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The White Lie is a story of a family's inability to be truthful with itself. It is about repressed emotion, appearances, conventionality and that most British of things, embarassment. Michael, the narrator, admits to being dead from the start, and he tells his tale slowly, hesitantly, picking through the motives and emotions of his family for clues. Although there is a mystery - the shadows and secrets around the real events of Michael's death - this is not a whodunnit in the conventional sense. It is possible to work out at least some of the truth of it quite early on; that isn't what keeps the reader engaged. Rather, it is the manner of the telling, the rich detail of observation, and the oppressive atmosphere of the family in its ancestral place that make this an enthralling read. If you love a good murder mystery, it could be a disappointment: this is a book that reveals the hidden, pale underside of human motives, and it does that superbly well. ( )
  Goldengrove | Oct 25, 2014 |
As his spirit wanders a crumbling family estate, a murdered teenager narrates the story of his death and the web of deception woven to conceal it. The Salter family was once prosperous and important, but their fortune has become so watered down that they can no longer maintain the property. Yet the family still gathers there, insulated from the world inside the walls of Peattie House. As they gather to celebrate the birthday of Edith, the shade of her grandson Michael Salter combs through memories of the past to reveal the true cause of his death, and the person responsible for it.

Michael is an unreliable narrator, constantly hedging in his words and stopping short of definitive statements. He shifts from one version of his story to the next, slipping through time with no respect for chronology. His family members debate events, posing alternate theories for his disappearance, and all he does is keep quiet and occasionally hint that he alone knows the truth. In truth, the endless repetition between cousins and uncles and aunts gets old quickly.

Navigating the web of lies is second in difficulty only in navigating the web of family relationships. There are a lot of characters populating this novel – just the family only contains twenty-four people, and then there are servants and visitors and friends in the village. It’s overwhelming. With such an enormous cast, few characters are developed beyond one or two baseline personality traits. Some of them are unpleasant, others merely unsympathetic. At the end of the book, I was left wanting more information about a couple of the key characters, and feeling absolutely indifferent towards the rest.

The narrator’s drifting lack of focus, the overpopulated cast, and the convoluted plot made the novel excessively tedious. I wearied of the mystery early on, and had long ceased to care about the resolution before reaching the final page. ( )
  makaiju | Apr 6, 2014 |
This mystery presents itself in an interesting way- the story is told from the perspective of the murder victim, and no one seems at all unclear on the identity of the killer. As such, the book really focuses more on the how and why than the the who, and reflects an interesting perspective of the murder victim aging and maturing as he haunts his home- he has a deeper understanding of and sympathy for its series of overlapping secrets.

That said, there are periods when the narrative starts to drag making reading a challenge. Also, the central mystery and revelations are nothing of the sort for an astute reader. I am not actually certain if they are supposed to be a surprise but it seems likely, and yet the suspense simply wasn't here. Regardless, the books is well-written and the story enjoyable. I felt engaged with the characters, especially poor Michael, even if I never really understood why his entire family was willing to allow his aunt's involvement in his murder to go uninvestigated. ( )
  ForeignCircus | Jan 21, 2014 |
Did he die or just run away (and then die)? He's not saying. ( )
  picardyrose | Jan 12, 2014 |
I felt suffocated by the web of lies and deception that this book recounted. It all seemed so pointless and destructive. This family encapsulated the worst of neurotic, inward-looking, landed gentry. ( )
  Rosie-Anne | Oct 28, 2013 |
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Book description
On a hot summer's afternoon, Ursula Salter runs sobbing from the loch on her parents' Scottish estate and confesses, distraught, that she has killed Michael, her 19 year old nephew.

But what really happened? No body can be found, and Ursula's story is full of contradictions. In order to protect her, the Salters come up with another version of events, a decision that some of them will come to regret.

Years later, at a family gathering, a witness speaks up and the web of deceit begins to unravel. What is the white lie? Only one person knows the whole truth. Narrating from beyond the grave, Michael takes us to key moments in the past, looping back and back until - finally - we see what he sees.
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Een 19-jarige Schotse jongen, die beweert dood te zijn, beschrijft de visie van zijn familie op zijn plotselinge verdwijning en vertelt over gebeurtenissen uit heden en verleden waarin familiegeheimen, bedrog en schuldgevoelens een grote rol spelen.

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