Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Review: Lies and Other Acts of Love

Summary: Dear Carolina was praised as “Southern fiction at its best.”* Now author Kristy Woodson Harvey presents a new novel about what it really means to tell the truth . . .

After sixty years of marriage and five daughters, Lynn “Lovey” White knows that all of us, from time to time, need to use our little white lies.

Her granddaughter, Annabelle, on the other hand, is as truthful as they come. She always does the right thing—that is, until she dumps her hedge fund manager fiancé and marries a musician she has known for three days. After all, her grandparents, who fell in love at first sight, have shared a lifetime of happiness, even through her grandfather’s declining health.

But when Annabelle’s world starts to collapse around her, she discovers that nothing about her picture-perfect family is as it seems. And Lovey has to decide whether one more lie will make or break the ones she loves . . . -- Berkley

It's been a very, very long time since I have lived in the south; however, I still love a good old southern fiction book. There is just something about the setting of the south and its traditions that still call out to me. And truth be told, that's one of the things that called out to me about LIES AND OTHER ACTS OF LOVEKristy Woodson Harvey's latest novel. When Elin Hilderbrand says, “Lies and Other Acts of Love establishes [Harvey] as a major new voice in southern fiction. This book stirred mighty emotions in me, yet left me with a sense of peace. A truly delightful read," then you just know you have to read it, right?

LIES AND OTHER ACTS OF LOVE brings together the stories of Annabelle and her grandmother Lovey. Annabelle was always the traditional good girl -- she wore the "right" clothes, was a good daughter, and had a well-to-do fiancé from a good family; however out of nowhere, she dumps him for a musician who travels around the country going from gig to gig. When she ends of marrying this very same musician after only knowing him for three days, her family thinks she's gone off the deep end!

Meanwhile, Annabelle's grandmother Lovey is facing a difficult time. As her long-time husband's health and mental state decline, she is forced to confront the reality that she can't continue to take care of him and their family's home. Lovey is clinging to the hope that one last vacation together might be magical for them.

Annabelle and Lovey have a wonderful relationship, and Annabelle is determined that her marriage can be as ideal as her grandparents'. When Annabelle realizes that things aren't as perfect as she had hoped, she realizes that love isn't easy no matter how much you want it to be. She also learns some difficult lessons about truth and protecting those you love.

I enjoyed LIES AND OTHER ACTS OF LOVE quite a bit. It was definitely an enjoyable read for me with some great characters. I liked Annabelle well enough (although there were times when I got frustrated with her); however, I really liked Lovey! She was a great example of a matriarch, and my heart honestly broke for her as she was forced to deal with not only her husband's poor health but also her own mortality. Even though her daughters had her best interests at heart, it's still hard to accept leaving your house and what those next steps symbolize.

One thing I really enjoyed about LIES AND OTHER ACTS OF LOVE were the family dynamics. The women in Annabelle's family were strong women and I liked how they interacted with each other. They loved and supported each other, but there were also little petty things too -- it was so real to me! As the book evolved, it became apparent that a few of the members were holding on to some long-time secrets; and I appreciated how the themes of lies and love occurred in the side stories too.

I don't think I'm a particularly intuitive reader; however in the case of LIES AND OTHER ACTS OF LOVE, I will say that I knew what the ending would be. I don't know if I'd go so far as to say that I was disappointed with this, but it did make the story a little predictable. I do believe the author was trying to set up the story to make a big reveal. Unfortunately, I was just waiting for the truth to come out, and when it did, it seemed a little anti-climatic for me.

One thing is for sure, LIES AND OTHER ACTS OF LOVE would make a great book club pick. I looked for discussion questions, but unfortunately, I wasn't able to find any. There are so many relevant themes to discuss and the characters are interesting as well. Some things you might want to explore include love at first sight, family, mother/daughter relationships, aging, forgiveness, choices, marriage, and of course lies and love.

Overall, I think LIES AND OTHER ACTS OF LOVE is a very good story. I enjoyed it quite a bit and definitely recommend it to fans of southern and women's fiction.

Thanks to the author and publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


bermudaonion said...

I love Southern stories and don't mind predictable from time to time so I'll have to check this out. The author was here last week while I was at my mom's so I had to miss it.

designchic said...

Thank you for this lovely review of Lies and Other Acts of Love!