The Lies We Hide – S. E. Lynes
The Lies We Hide is a disturbing, heart-breaking and cleverly observed story of abuse and its repercussions on a family. This family drama delves into the moments that constitute the obvious physical abuse from a cruel husband but also the malignant psychological torment and fear that affects the whole family.
Carol is married to Ted and they have a son Graham and daughter Nicola (Nicky). Their childhood has been spent witnessing their mother being beaten, leaving home and returning into a cycle of violence, distress and fear. While this theme is common, Susie Lynes creates a story that wraps a poignant narrative around the impact abuse has on each member of the family and how they fought to escape their damaged existence and build a better life.
One night Carol is held underwater in the bath and as she feels her life slipping away, she makes a promise to herself, that if she survives, she will leave that very night and never return. Which she does, and they move to a refuge with the help of neighbours, Pauline and Tommy.
S.E. Lynes structures her book to provide a perspective from Carol, Nicola and Richard. There are time shifts from Carol living through the misery and recovering in the 1980s and from Nicola as a qualified barrister in 2019 as she returns to the family home for the funeral of her mother. Richard is a prison chaplain and has developed an interest in trying to help and bring some resolution for Graham, as he hardly ever speaks and is serving time for murder.
“I remember my brother withdrawing into himself. His stutter made it hard for him. He constructed a new identity: silent, since speaking was difficult; violent, since no one speaks out against a fist; mean, since kindness got you nowhere.”
The narrative is keenly observed as it explores the various directions Graham and Nicky take from their damaged upbringing and a mother that fought every inch to keep her children safe. How Carol made some very difficult choices and sacrifices, to try and give her children a chance of happiness and a better quality of life. There are interactions and relationships that add depth to the characters and illustrate how their past haunts them and affects the perceptions they have of the world. Balance is provided in the novel with moments of humour and the selfless acts of love that come from genuine caring. In many respects, this is a story of love overcoming adversity.
I cared about all the characters but considering the theme, I had expected to be more consumed with their well-being. Trying to maintain multiple threads and time shifts felt laboured at times and seemed to affect the flow of the story.
I recommend reading this book and I would like to thank Bookouture and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC version in return for an honest review.