Title: Big Lies in a Small Town
Author: Diane Chamberlain
Published: January 14, 2020 by St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction,
Goodreads Rating: 4.01 out of 5
My Rating: ★★★★★
“North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.
North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.
What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?”
When I first read the description of Big Lies in a Small Town I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew we’d be reading a fiction book but I thought it was going to be more thriller than historical fiction. I’m honestly glad the book turned out the way it was though. This is most definitely a historical fiction with just a touch of mystery and scandal.
Big Lies in a Small Town, told in alternating timelines is the story of two women given a second change at life. Both timelines, stories, are equaling strong stories. I really couldn’t pick which one I enjoyed more, even if you paid me to.
We open the story with Morgan Christopher’s story. A twenty two year old prison inmate. She’ll currently serving three years for a DWI that left another girl in a coma and paralyzed. Except she wasn’t the one actually driving, her boyfriend at the time was. When Lisa comes to make Morgan an offer to get her out of jail, Morgan jumps at the opportunity even though she knows nothing about restoring old mural paintings. Morgan’s task is to help restore an old mural painting for the opening of Lisa’s father Jesse Williams, the biggest problem being that Morgan’s never restored anything in her life and the mural is in worse shape than anyone excepted.
Anna, our flashback storyline, is a young artist that has won the chance to paint one of 48 murals across the United States. When she’s sent to rural North Carolina she’s met both with warm southern hospitality and confronted with the small minds of a small town. Her strong moral character really helps guide her through dealing with a town that would have rather their own portrait artist had won the competition. She handles the conflicts that come her way with a ton of grace.
Both protagonists are strong, likable women. They are both determined, young, and persistent in what they want. They’re both alone with no family support system in their lives. They both face an incident where a ‘man’ robs them of their future, which is ultimately a huge turning point in their lives.
Chamberlain, has done an amazing job of combining a fantasticating story line with themes of racism, love, mental illness, secrets, and redemption flawlessly. The characters are well-developed and incredibly realistic. At no point did I roll my eyes at their actions. I am definitely going to be on the search for my next Diane Chamberlain book, because she might be me new favorite author. A solid ★★★★★ rating for me.
If you think you’d like to read this book, it came out Tuesday January 14th and you can get a copy HERE!
I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on Big Lies in a Small Town. If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my instagram @speakingof_books. Huge thanks to St. Martin’s Press for my advanced copy of the book.
About the Author
Diane Chamberlain is the New York Times, USA Today and (London) Sunday Times best-selling author of 27 novels. The daughter of a school principal who supplied her with a new book almost daily, Diane quickly learned the emotional power of story. Although she wrote many small “books” as a child, she didn’t seriously turn to writing fiction until her early thirties when she was waiting for a delayed doctor’s appointment with nothing more than a pad, a pen, and an idea. Diane lives in North Carolina with her significant other, photographer John Pagliuca, and their odd but loveable Shetland Sheepdog, Cole.