The Lies We Hide – S. E. Lynes

1 December 2019
The Lies We Hide Book Cover The Lies We Hide
S.E. Lynes
December 4, 2019

The truth can set you free, or make you a prisoner… Thirty years ago, Nicola Watson lived with her parents and older brother in a respectable suburb. At ten years old, she didn’t yet understand why her stomach tightened when she heard her father’s heavy tread as he returned home late at night, or why it made her brother Graham’s stammer get worse, or why one night her mother Carol woke them both, wide-eyed and whispering, and took them out of their home and into the unknown. Now a successful lawyer in the city, with a life poles apart from her dark beginnings, Nicola has returned home for her mother’s funeral. But as she stands in her mother’s house, remembering the woman who sacrificed everything for her children, Nicola has to confront the guilt that she feels for leaving her family behind. And the belief that she played a part in the events that led to her brother going to prison for murder. All Carol wanted was to protect her children, but escaping her husband was only the beginning of the story. And when Nicola learns the truth of what her mother did, it will change everything she thought she knew about herself and her family. A gripping, emotional story of family secrets, and the strength of a mother’s love in the darkest times. The next powerful read for fans of The Silent Wife, Kerry Lonsdale and Emily Bleeker. Readers are loving The Lies We Hide! ‘I sobbed a good way through The Lies We Hide and for two days my life went on hold while the story of Carol, Graham and Nicola held me hostage, emerging red eyed, exhausted and elated – without a tissue left in the house. My initial response on finishing was an inarticulate, ‘Wow!'… A book that stays with you, that has you thinking about your own values, your own family, your own secrets, that haunts your dreams and fills your waking hours – now that’s a book to read, keep and read again.’


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.

Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley

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