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The Comfort of Lies: A Novel by Randy Susan…

The Comfort of Lies: A Novel (edition 2013)

by Randy Susan Meyers

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2432547,405 (3.63)1
Title:The Comfort of Lies: A Novel
Authors:Randy Susan Meyers
Info:Atria Books (2013), Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned, Library Book
Tags:Contemporary American Fiction, Marriage, Infidelity, Relationships, Trust, Adoption, Reality

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The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers



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Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
3.5 stars

Three mothers. Two fathers. One daughter. What a tangled web we weave...

This book was refreshing for me, in that I had just read 3 or 4 books that I devoured quickly - they were can't-put-'em-down reads. Compared to the pace I had been on, this was like a leisurely visit, something to ponder over almost a whole week.

And there was a lot to ponder.

This book was challenging for me because I am adopted. And the mess that this turns into is exactly why I stay away from making any efforts to track down my biological family :)

So we have a husband, Nathan, who cheats on his wife, Juliette, with Tia. Tia gets pregnant and tells him, he strongly suggests an abortion and leaves, and they don't speak again. Tia can't make this decision, but she does decide she can't raise the baby. So, through an open adoption, she gives her child to Peter and Caroline, a wealthy couple who can't conceive. Tia gets a photo and letter every year. One year, she can't fight her impulses anymore. So she sends a copy of all the photos she has of the child to Nathan. The letter is found by his wife, and things go awry from there.

Oddly enough, I found myself feeling most sympathetic to Juliette, Nathan's wife, the one woman who has no legal or biological claim to the child. Perhaps it's because she comes across as the least selfish, the most interested in the child's well-being, the most concerned about giving this child a sense of family, perhaps even at her own expense.

I'm mostly indifferent to Caroline, the adoptive mother. She struggles with being a mother, never really wanted to. There is a turning point where it's clear that she is attached to her child, and will protect her and her family. But until that point, it's very hard to attach to her. Sure, it's easy to understand that not every woman is made to stay at home, bake cookies, and give up her self to her family. But loving a child you've had since she was a couple days old shouldn't be as hard as Caroline makes it.

Tia, the birth mother, is my least favorite character, and this was very surprising to me. I have nothing but positive feelings towards my own birth mother and her choices; I pass no judgment and feel no regret at the decision she made. But Tia is nothing but full of self-judgment and regret, and it almost destroys everyone in this story. She admits that she didn't give up her child out of a concern for the child's well-being, but because she couldn't bear a reminder of her lover, the one she had no claim to. She recklessly mails off photos to Nathan, with no thought of his wife or children detonating this bomb, and thinks his lack of response to this letter is about her and him. She is constantly surprised about the bond that exists between Nathan, his wife, and their children, even though she still feels so bonded to the child she gave up 5 years ago that she can't even think of her by the name the parents gave her, Savannah. She is selfish, reckless, and immature. She has a moment of redemption, too, but it's hard to forget the precarious position she put all of them in, thoughtlessly.

I really liked the way the author compared these women to their mothers' generations and marriages. It gave a very complete view of womanhood at various stages, and various eras. I also liked that no one got a pass - even Juliette has things to apologize for and work on, and Peter, Caroline's husband, has to make concessions if he wants his family to be the way he wants it, not just demand that it somehow should just happen.

The one voice I thought was lost here was Savannah's, perhaps the most important voice in all of this. True, she is only 5. But that's all the more reason more people should be fighting to protect her from this chaos. The author does a fair job of capturing the curiosity of an adopted child at this age of understanding it all (I remember how I was dealing with it at this age myself). But her view of it all is very incomplete. No, she couldn't understand all the nuances at this age. Still, I'm sure she has more opinions and has drawn more conclusions - even incorrect ones - than the author explores here. Perhaps the absence of Savannah's voice serves to heighten the selfishness and immaturity of the adults around her.

All in all, a very good read. I would recommend it to anyone, and would like to read more by this author. ( )
  LauraCerone | May 26, 2016 |
I stopped reading because these characters were making me angry. I was on page 204 when I had enough. ( )
1 vote laura.w.douglas | Feb 7, 2015 |
I stopped reading because these characters were making me angry. I was on page 204 when I had enough. ( )
  laura.w.douglas | Feb 7, 2015 |
I liked this book, but didn't love it. The choices a person makes will touch the lives of many. ( )
  myra.reads | Dec 25, 2014 |
I found this author via her connection with Robin Black....they seem to be friends of some sort, have appeared together at events, and this book is partly about problems in marriage relationships, as is Black's "Life Drawing". Robin Black is, however, a far superior writer in my opinion. Ms Meyers has a good idea for a story here. Meyers is (partly) exploring the impact on a relationship of lack of truthfulness and openness. (She is also looking at motherhood - is there a 'good' mother? who should be a mother? what if you turn out to be not such a great mother? etc). She has one (adoptive) mother - a paediatric oncologist - finding that she's bored with her child, doesn't want to read the same bedtime story over and over, doesn't want to spend ages playing tedious games with dolls, etc. The woman has done the adoption under pressure from her husband. I expect there would be parts of American society, especially in Meyers' target audience demographic, that would be horrified by this and might even deny that such a person could exist! The same character is also tempted to develop a relationship with a man who she meets at a conference. She does initially establish some kind of internet-only relationship but then she terminates it when she realizes the potential destructiveness of having such a relationship and keeping it secret from her husband. In the same way, the man who fathered the girl who ended up being adopted by the oncologist, did keep the child's possible existence secret from his wife and this is clearly destructive to their relationship. All these issues are worth exploring and the Meyers tries hard to pull together a good story which connects them all. Unfortunately, she's not blessed with Robin Black's ability and the book doesn't really achieve its potential. It degenerates into what is almost a kind of romantic chick-lit at times, and I found the ending quite unsatisfying. ( )
  oldblack | Oct 30, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
Meyers has crafted an absorbing and layered
drama that explores the complexities of infidelity, forgiveness, and family.
added by randysmeyers | editBooklist, Kristine Huntley (Jan 1, 2013)
"The characters crackle with both intelligence and wit . . . Meyers’ women resonate as strong, complicated and conflicted, and the writing flows effortlessly in this sweet yet sassy novel about love, women and motherhood.”
added by randysmeyers | editKirkus
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Book description
In "The Comfort of Lies", a little girl’s birthday triggers a collision course for three women: the woman who gave birth to her, the woman whose husband fathered her, and the woman who adopted her, forcing them to make decisions about marriage, motherhood, and their careers, and face the damage of infidelity.
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"An affair between bright young student Tia and Nathan, a charismatic married sociology professor, ends when Tia becomes pregnant. After urging her to get rid of the baby, Nathan tells his wife, Juliette, about the affair and never sees Tia again. Tia has a daughter and then gives her up for adoption to workaholic pathologist Caroline and her husband, Peter, who dotes on the child. Five years later, Juliette intercepts a letter from Tia that starts, "Dear Nathan, This is our daughter." Inside is a photo of the girl, Savannah, and a promise to "help her get in touch" with Nathan in the future. Her trust in Nathan strained once more, Juliette goes in search of Caroline, who regrets neglecting Savannah."--Publishers Weekly.… (more)

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