Helen Dunmore’s THE LIE is the story of an English veteran of World War I and the lies he tells to help himself come to terms with what he did, what he survived, and how he lived on after the war ended.
Daniel is the son of a poor cleaning woman and he grew up following his mother to the stately homes she cleaned before he followed her into the same sort of work, only as a gardener. Along the way, though, he befriends Frederick Dennis and his sister Felicia – two people from one of the families in one of the stateliest of homes in Cornwall. That Frederick and Daniel become blood brothers and the best of friends defies the societal logic of the first decades of the twentieth century.
The friendship is touching, though, and only suffers when war starts.
Upper class young men became the officers of the army and the young men who worked as gardeners for the upper class become little more than cannon fodder. By a stroke of luck and accident, Daniel and Frederick find themselves in the same company – with Frederick as an officer who has already seen too many men lost.
Telling anyone reading this review what happens to them as they prepare to battle would be giving away a part of the story and, as this is a story very much worth reading, all I’ll say is that what happens is poetic, beautiful, and tragic all at the same time.
The rest of the story is tied to what happens in the trenches of France as well.
Suffice it to say, without giving anything away, the lies Daniel tells are done with the purest of intentions. He means no malice toward anyone and he does it with simple survival and a hope for happiness and peace in his heart.
Like life, real life, things don’t always end the way you might want them to. And sometimes that’s the way it should be.
(I received a copy of THE LIE as part of the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program. This review is cross-posted between my blog & my Goodreads account.)