I’ve said it before and will no doubt say it again, but I don’t believe in persevering with books that you are not enjoying. If a book doesn’t grab me in the first sixty or seventy pages, sometimes sooner, I can be pretty damn sure that things aren’t going to change. Why then, did I spend Thanksgiving break with Our Little Lies by Sue Watson, when at first take I really wasn’t enjoying it?
I have to confess that I picked this book up because I thought it had been written by SJ Watson of Before I Go to Sleep fame, which was a book that I had loved written by a writer that I had largely forgotten about. I’ve found of late that there have been quite a few authors who I always thought that I would delve into again, but have failed to do so. So, I settled down with Our Little Lies anticipating that this would be a really enjoyable way to spend Thanksgiving. I quickly realized my mistake, for although this was good, it wasn’t great. A quick check of a Wikipedia page revealed that SJ Watson is a middle aged man, whilst Sue Watson…..well, Sue said it all really. She has a very chirpy website and blog, really the total antithesis of what I was reading. Intrigued, I kept going.
Our Little Lies tells the story of a very unhappy marriage. Marianne, a carefree twenty something, falls in love with and marries Simon, a notable surgeon who in her opinion is devastatingly attractive and irresistible to all women. Already a widow, Simon has a young daughter Sophie who Marianne sets about raising as her own, alongside the twin boys that follow from her marriage to Simon. They live in the perfect home and present as the perfect family, only they aren’t.
I don’t find stories relating to marital abuse easy to read, but what I found so clever about Watson’s tale and indeed what kept me reading, was that so little happened in the narrative. Marianne is so terrified of her husband that she lives largely inside her own head, whilst cooking and cleaning for Simon. Don’t get me wrong, there’s certainly action in the tale, centering around Simon’s supposed serial infidelities, but an enormous portion of the story is spent with Marianne doubting herself, worrying about her husband and in a fog from the medication she takes. It’s not really a straightforward issue of an unreliable narrator, so much as it is the story of a woman perpetually on the cusp of a massive nervous breakdown that she simply cannot allow to happen for fear of losing her family.
Having realized that I most definitely had my Watsons confused I find that I’ve doubled my reading load Watsonwise, or so to speak! Not only do I still owe SJ another read, but I think I owe Sue a read of her chirpier, happier stories. Our Little Lies is worth a read, but just beware the subject matter