Review: The Lies You Told by Harriet Tyce

Title: The Lies You Told

Author: Harriet Tyce

Published: 1st December, 2020, Grand Central Publishing

Status: Read December 2020 courtesy Grand Central Publishing/Netgalley


My Thoughts:

The Lies You Told is Harriet Tyce’s second domestic psychological thriller.

Frightened by the recent uncharacteristic behaviour of her husband, Sadie Roper does the one thing she swore she never would and returns to London to take up residence in her late mother’s home. The terms of her mother’s will insists that for Sadie to take occupancy, her daughter, eleven year old Robin, must attend the same elite girl’s school, Ascham, that Sadie did. Sadie has very few good memories of her alma mater, and the events of the first few weeks do nothing to change her mind. The mothers are judgemental and hyper-competitive, and Robin is ostracised and miserable, but until Sadie can relaunch her career as a criminal barrister, mother and daughter have no other options. Just as Sadie can bear no more, the worst school-gate offender, Julia, unexpectedly apologises, and suddenly Sadie, and Robin, find themselves in the inner circle. It’s a relief for Sadie when both Julia, and Nicola, extend their friendship and offer to look after Robin while she is working, but are these really women she can trust?

The main plot of The Lies You Told is focused on the relationship Sadie develops with two Ascham mothers, Julia and Nicola, which begins, and ends, in extremis. There are several dramatic events that play out between the women, and their daughters, and though I felt the motivations were greatly exaggerated, there is a kernel of plausibility at the heart of the tale. Exclusionary ‘school-gate’ mothers are all too real, particularly in a privileged setting, and there are plenty of mothers willing to do almost anything to ensure the success of their children, though thankfully few who are willing to go as far as Julia and Nicola.

The secondary plot is a loose variation on the theme, with Sadie hired on as an assistant to defend a young, white teacher from a ‘good’, wealthy family who is accused of seducing his teenage student. His overbearing mother insists on micromanaging the case and is venomous towards anyone who suggests her son is anything but perfectly blameless. Rather improbably the accused’s father was responsible for a sexual assault against Sadie when she was a law student, adding another layer to the plot, and this, is in addition to the mystery surrounding Sadie’s relationship with her mother, and her husband, feel forced.

Despite all this, the pace of the first two thirds of the book was fairly slow, though to her credit, Tyce does establish, and grow, a tense, foreboding atmosphere, and I was furiously flipping the pages during the final third of the novel, caught up in Sadie’s frenzied behaviour.

Unfortunately though I never really warmed to Sadie. Though she’s obviously under quite a lot of stress from the opening pages of the novel, she makes some unforced gaffes that make her seem like a flake. All I could think, as Julia screamed at her without cause, was that Sadie’s unwillingness to defend herself didn’t bode well for her skills as a barrister. Sadie then goes on to get over involved in the court case she in a part of, and seems to forget her role as a member of the defence. She also makes some decisions with regards to her daughter that didn’t sit well with me, and can’t wholly be blamed on her distress at the time.

While The Lies You Told has some strong and thrilling elements, I have mixed feelings about the story as a whole. Another reader may feel differently.


Available from Grand Central Publishing

Or from your preferred retailer via Indiebound, Book Depository I Booko

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Linda Moore
    Dec 06, 2020 @ 10:50:52

    This book sounds very good.
    I love the cover.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Susan
    Dec 06, 2020 @ 11:34:49

    Darn! I just got this book in the mail and thought it sounded like a good one. I’ll have to see what I think, but I’m worried I’ll be bugged by the same things you were. We’ll see.

    Also, I just started a reading challenge round-up blog – I’ll go put your Nonfiction Reader Challenge on there right now!


    Liked by 1 person


  3. Mystica
    Dec 06, 2020 @ 14:17:22

    Flakiness and being in la la land in a character makes it hard for me to like or even read about a character like that.

    Liked by 1 person


  4. Trin Carl
    Dec 07, 2020 @ 02:17:50

    I’ve heard a lot about this book. Some of these thriller book covers with the character looking out of a door or window are making these books blend in my mind. I like how its described and this particular line jumped out at me ‘Sadie develops with two Ascham mothers, Julia and Nicola, which begins, and ends, in extremis.’ makes me want to read it more.

    Liked by 1 person


  5. Stephanie @ Bookfever
    Dec 07, 2020 @ 03:11:31

    Too bad you had some mixed feelings. I often feel the same with thrillers especially.

    Liked by 1 person


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  7. Laurel-Rain Snow
    Dec 08, 2020 @ 03:11:11

    I have The Lies You Told on my stack…and may wait a while, as I need a faster pace these days. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person


  8. Verushka, an editor (@SydneyEditor1)
    Dec 09, 2020 @ 22:16:02

    I’m sorry this didn’t work out there are so many elements here that look good to me 😦 It really sucks it didn’t come together!

    Liked by 1 person


  9. Izabel Brekilien
    Dec 17, 2020 @ 18:31:38

    I’m sorry it wasn’t that good, but books can’t all be great – thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


  10. Carla
    Dec 21, 2020 @ 13:27:44

    Nice honest review Shelleyrae.



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