Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows ~ Book Review

Not sure how this happened but I finished this book way back at the beginning of October and have just not got around to writing a review.  So this will be a less indepth look at the story as well as I can remember my thoughts on it but I like to remember the gist of how I felt about a book on record for myself.

This book is written by Annie Barrows who co-authored The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society which I enjoyed.  The story is set in 1938, a time period which has drawn me as of late, and in small town West Virginia.  Layla Beck is the daughter of a senator who refuses to bend to her father's wishes in choice of marriage partner so her father forces her to take a job that her uncle finds for her.  She is given the job of writing the history of small town Macedonia for the Federal Writer's Project, which incidentally was a real government project of the 1930's that employed writers and attempted to preserve the stories of small town America.  Room and board is set up for her in one of the prominent families in town, the Romney's, who's father used to own and run the sock factory in town which was a major employer.

Jottie Romney is the strong female head of the family and in her 30's and unmarried is considered a spinster in town.  Under her charge is Willa, a precocious 12 year old who belongs to Felix, Jottie's divorced brother.  Since Felix is almost always out of town on business it falls to Jottie to raise Willa and they enjoy a close relationship with Felix moving in and out of their lives at intervals.  But the arrival of Layla, whom Willa doesn't trust or like, throws the family into chaos and both start to uncover some startling secrets that certain members of the family have long tried to hide.

I enjoyed this story and it's exploration of how personal and historical truths are sometimes changed so that they are more palatable to remember.  The Romney family had a strong history in the town and they identified strongly with that history but the history  was a bit fluid depending on who told it so was it considered accurate depending on who was doing the  telling?  As Layla starts to dig into the town's history which is also wrapped up in the history of the family she begins developing a relationship with Felix who is not exactly known for his loyalty.  But as the truths start slowly revealing themselves she finds more than she bargained for as Felix will do anything to keep certain things hidden.  The mystery of that kept the pages turning for me as did Willa's part in the whole thing.  She also is doing some digging of her own.  One had to feel for a little girl who's Mother was not around and her father was basically missing in action.  There were, however, lots of characters and stories to wrap one's head around and so the story definitely was not fast paced but more of a slow burn to get to the end.

I gave this story a 8.5/10


Barbara H. said...

I had not heard of the Federal Writer's Project - what a neat idea! I also still haven't read the Guernsey story yet - I need to rectify that one of these days. Sounds like an interesting book.

Faith said...

I still haven't read the Guernsey one yet either and this one sounds pretty good. I have THREE library books on the night stand next to my side of the bed and THREE from my sister on the floor next to the bed. lol....I just posted a book review today too!

Wendy said...

Sounds like an interesting read. However my TBR pile next to my bed is beginning to look like the leaning tower of Pisa.

Karen said...

I loved the Guernsey book and will be adding this one to my TBR list. I hadn't heard of the Federal Writer's Project. Great idea.

~ linda said...

This sounds like a TBR books for me. The Federal government put many people to work through the CCC and WPA but there were projects like this one that hired the artists of the time. There was a theatre project, a music one, the Farm Security admin which was the documentary photos we often see of the people who were moving to Calif. during the Dust Bowl. They even encouraged people to read "Book-of-the-Month" just to engage them in something besides worry.
Anyway, you drew me in and now I want to read this book. Thanks.