Emma is one of my favorite Victorian novels. If you’ve read it, you know that this girl can lie with the best of them. She feels as though she knows what is best for everyone and lies to many of her friends—especially Harriet—in her quest to be matchmaker. But the person that Emma lies to the very most is herself by trying to make herself fall in love with Frank, though, as anyone can see, she is actually in love with Mr. Knightley. Fortunately for Emma, her friends are able to recover from her lies, just as she is, and all’s well that ends well.
The Paris Wife
The Paris Wife is a brilliant novel about Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson. His first wife. So that fact in and of itself makes us know how the rest of the book is going to go. While Hemingway lies about the big thing, you know, the until death do us part and forsaking all others stuff, Hadley and Ernest have a shocking amount of raw, bold truth in their relationship. They seem to tell each other the truth even when it’s very, very difficult—right up until the end, that is, when Ernest’s betrayal is a total surprise to his wife.
Fates and Furies
Lauren Groff’s Lotto spends the first half of the book building up this epic love story that is his marriage—and his wife, Mathilde, spends the second half tearing it down with that old pest the truth. Lotto’s general view of life is very rosy, which we know, so it isn’t a surprise, necessarily, that the way he sees things is quite different from the way they really are. Though others might disagree, I saw Mathilde’s omissions and willingness to go along with Lotto to be an act of love, of preserving his tender heart, not a betrayal.
The Middle of Somewhere
Yoerg’s protagonist, Liz, undertakes a journey of self-discovery and healing in an attempt to come to terms with a grand lie of omission she has told the person who loves her the most: her boyfriend Dante. The handling of this lie informs the rest of the novel and directs Liz’s path on the trip and, ultimately, the rest of her life.
Paper Covers Rock
The central lie in this book surrounds a young classmate’s death and its circumstances. Alex, the protagonist, is trying to make sense of the death of his friend Thomas by writing about it in his journal, while all of the boys are trying to save their own backs by covering up the fact that they were drinking when the death occurred. There are so many secrets in this book, revealed little by little, that kept me flipping pages until the very end.
This was my favorite Roald Dahl book as a child. The major lie in this wonderful book is the lie that is told over and over again to Matilda by her parents and her principal, Miss Trunchbull: that she isn’t smart and she isn’t special. If you know Matilda, you know that she is both things in droves, as well as very, very brave. Thank goodness Miss Honey comes along and scoops her up, giving her the happy life she deserves!
Lies and Other Acts of Love
Kristy Woodson Harvey
Great literature is littered with lies and liars. Often they take the form of unreliable narrators, guiding us astray as we follow their stories. A little white lie can form the foundation of a relationship; it can also dismantle entire lives. And some liars are better than others. Kristy Woodson Harvey, author of Lies and Other Acts of Love, introduces us to literature’s greatest liars and reminds us not to believe everything we read.
Kristy Woodson Harvey holds a degree in journalism and mass communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s in English from East Carolina University. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and son. Her most recent book, Lies and Other Acts of Love, is available now.
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