‘The Lies You Told’ by Harriet Tyce – review with spoilers

The Lies You Told’ is a second book by Harriet Tyce, the author of bestselling ‘Blood Orange’. The book is telling the story of Sadie, who is now separated from her partner and is forced to come back from the USA to England. Her mother left an inheritance that comprises a house and a trust fund. But there’s one condition – Sadie’s daughter, Robin, needs to take a spot in a particular school. This is a private school located in North London where Sadie attended herself as a child. Sadie hated this place as a pupil. Places at the school are much sought off, and it surprised Sadie to find that the place at this school becomes available. On top of this, Sadie tries to re-establish her career as a criminal barrister.

Both of these tasks are not smooth. Sadie is feeling alienated by other mothers, and her daughter is being subject to bullying and harassment. When her professional life is concerned, she receives a short shift straight away. The clerk that she encounters tells her that they do not have work for her. That is despite the fact that Sadie has a practising certificate that is up-to-date. This may be due to the previous allegation of sexual harassment that Sadie made in the past when she was in chambers. Sadie desperately needs help. To her rescue comes Zora, her school friend, who now is a criminal solicitor and regularly instruct these chambers.

Sadie is now a junior barrister on a high-profile statutory rape allegation against a teacher in one of the private schools in North London. The teacher in question is highly educated and the son of a judge. He gets character reference from a bishop and a headmaster from an equally acclaimed school.

IN ‘THE LIES YOU TOLD’ BY HARRIET TYCE

Harriet Tyce stresses in her interviews that she was concerned about reviews of ‘Blood Orange’ that portray the main protagonist of this book as a very bad mother. This book takes a completely different angle on motherhood. Sadie is an excellent mother. She is open to her daughter’s problems, contratsting with many of these pushy mums that only care about their child’s progress.  

Although at the end of the book, Harriet Tyce overemphasised the role of ethics, as if the person confesses to a deed to his legal team, he does not have to do this in court. He can still test the prosecution case against him, but he cannot give his testimony in court. In this manner, he is not misleading the court. Although in this book, Barbara’s acted unethically by allowing him or even encouraging him to give his testimony. His premature confession in court is very surprising. I think it would have been more noir if the respective actions were taken against his legal team, but he still pursued his claim by testing the prosecution case. 

Overall, the book is engaging and very well written, with many cliffhangers, interesting revelations and twists. Of the latter, I am favourite is when not the one from the legal case but with Sadie’s husband who intentionally let her believe that he had been having an affair to shield her work problems. In the end, they are all united. 

What really struck me in this novel is that it has a happy ever after ending. This is really unique in domestic noir. It is almost a feel-good book. I recommend it to all, and I can’t wait for Harriet Tyce’s new novel.

‘THE LIES YOU TOLD’ on Amazon

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