Big Lies in a Small Town- A review by Allison

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Big Lies in a Small Town
Diane Chamberlain

Fiction/ Mystery
Published on January 5th, 2021 by Griffin
416 pages

When I find a book that I love- that I really connect with- I get a little obsessed and I must get my hands on and devour every single thing the author has ever written.

I read my first Diane Chamberlain novel in 2014, called “The Silent Sister”.  (Amazing). After that, it was “The Secret Life of Ceecee Wilkes”. (ALL. THE. FEELS.)

And then “Dream Daughter”. (Fantastical, time-travely, and without a doubt one of the best books I have *EVER* read in my life.)

And now, we are gifted with Big Lies in a Small Town.

This book. THIS BOOK! I actually WON this in one of Chamberlains Instagram giveaways before it was even out. I could not believe it- She probably thought I was a nut, reacting with just a ridiculous amount of exclamation points. But I’m not apologizing. I’m passionate.

She personally sent me the book, with a very sweet, signed note inside. (After I gushed about “Dream Daughter”, she said she hoped I like Big Lies even though it had no time travel element).

Big Lies in a Small Town weaves together two women- Morgan, in 2018, and Anna in 1940, connected by a 70 year old mural.
In 1940, Anna wins a contest to paint a mural for the teeny town of Edenton, North Carolina. As a woman AND an outsider, this creates a *bit* of chaos. Add to that a few small minded racists, an angry wife and a spooky shed …..and, well there’s the recipe for a good ol’ drama.
In 2018, inmate Morgan is hired to restore the mural for the upcoming gallery opening of Jesse Jameson Williams, a recently deceased artist and philanthropist.

The author had this wonderful ability to give you *just* enough in the beginning to hook you, and then steadily feed you throughout the story. While there is that much anticipated “a-ha!” at the end, getting there is a nice, paced ride.

I love how Chamberlain’s characters are flawed. Anna is certainly not a victim. She has been through some stuff, but she has given as good as she has received.  And she had a wicked sense of something as she creates her way through the mural.

As Anna is creating the mural in 1940, the book passes us back and forth from her to 2018 and Morgan, who is restoring the mural as part of a deal to get out of jail situation. We can watch-simultaneously- how it affects each woman, 70 plus years apart. Brilliant!

Watching as the events and prejudices of small-town North Carolina inspire the creation of the mural, Chamberlain also tells a quieter, secondary story in the background of Jesse Williams as well. The present-day story includes some intense female characters, too.

Overall, an amazingly written story spanning decades. Not at all difficult to give this a 5-star rating.

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