Sunday, 29 March 2015

We Were Liars - E. Lockhart

Published;  May 13th 2014 by Delacorte Press

Source; Owned, Ebook

My Rating; 4 out of 5 stars

The Set Up; 

Enter the charmed circle of the Sinclair family where everyone is beautiful and talented and indolent, and on one has any real problems. Not that you'd know about anyway. Each summer is an idyllic stint on a private island, where there are four luxurious houses, a genial seeming patriarch and three branches of the family - who come together for all the fun and luxury of a private, golden season. It is a world apart. A faery land where everyone is wealthy and happy. Is it real?

And then one summer, something happens and Cadie, who now suffers debilitating migraines, can't remember what it is. What did happen to her? Why is she now this broken, un-sinclair-like thing? And why haven't the others been in touch with her? Cadie needs to find out. 


Well colour me green with envy at the deft and sly way this book wormed its way in despite the, frankly, not very likeable characters and the somewhat bourgeois lifestyle. The language is plain and perfect. The voice is convincing and convincingly fallible. The dialogue is all about the sub-text. And to top it off somehow this short novel manages to be King Lear meets Wuthering Heights and The Lives of Christopher Chant via the Blue Fairy book. Not an easy feat to pull off.

We start off with Cadie, who has been given everything by being born into the right family. Of course along with the wealth, beauty, privilege and indolence comes a certain noblesse oblige. 'Sit up. Breathe. Be normal. Because you are. Because you can.' There was initially something very sinister about this command from Cadie's mother. It screams 'feel your pain all you want, but you don't ever show it in public and never to the Family. The Family is inviolate. The Family is perfect and I won't have you making a scene.' And the whole while you just know that Cadie wants to curl around her grief and pain and just really be allowed to feel it. Not to mope but to allow it to be, to acknowledge it. I can't say I really liked any of the characters but I certainly felt for Cadie, even when I was rolling my eyes at her innate selfishness and thoughtlessness. She was after all a product of her environment - an environment that should have become outmoded in Victorian times, but instead merely changed it's shape. Cadie has had an accident and her 15th summer on her Grandfather's Island is a blur. A mystery trauma that has left her mixed up and broken, in constant pain and above all, alone. Just what did happen? All the previous summers were idyllic and golden. Surely there was nothing rotten lying underneath the opulence and festivity? Cadie needs to go back and find out. Most of all she needs to see the three people she loves most in the world again and find out why they all abandoned her after the accident.

There is something tyrannical and monstrous in the Grandfather figure, the way he derives his sense of worth and power by having his daughters fight over his love and riches; by having them force their children to act as pawns in the game. It is utterly disgusting that none of them are brave enough to just stand up to him when they have been given so much and so many opportunities. 

This is predominantly about the dangers of façade over family secrets, and how one ill-fated choice can change everything. I won't give away any more but this is really worth a read.

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