Tuesday, November 15, 2016
The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows ~ Book Review
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