BOOK TITLE: Everlasting Lies
AUTHOR: Barbara Warren
GENRE: Historical Romance, Women's Fiction
NUMBER OF PAGES: 305
SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank iRead Book Tours for this review copy.
Edina Paxton is kissed at twelve, seduced at fourteen and married with child at fifteen. She immediately regrets her marriage to Charles Vernon and is relieved when he leaves to fight in the trenches during WW1. She soon finds love, comfort and sexual satisfaction with Bill, another soldier and the boy who first kissed her.
Charles is invalided out of the army and is sent to India on a hospital ship. There, he becomes a manager of a coalmine in Britain’s Indian Empire, with all the privileges that his position rewards, including sexual favours from female employees. At the end of his army service in 1920 he returns to England to collect his family and return to India, only to be greeted with the news that while he was away Edina was at play. She is pregnant.
Reluctantly, Edina and her three children sail for India with Charles and Edina gives birth to her fourth child while sailing south on the Red Sea. On reaching India Charles finds his Indian mistress is pregnant and Edina finds Charles’s Indian boss to be very attractive. It’s a mutual attraction. Neither Edina nor Charles is a saint.
Piecing together fragments of her grandmother’s remarkable and tragic story, Everlasting Lies is Barbara’s loving tale of the early life of Edina, her grandmother, and Charles, Edina's husband. They both experience the horrors of WW1 and, in hopes of renewing their marriage, start new lives as members of the upper class in Imperial India.
I have always had a liking for historical fiction and women centric books. And this is the primary reason I picked this book up as soon as I was given a chance to. The cover (black and white image of a striking woman with only her lips highlighted in red) gave me a little idea of what I would get to read in this book. The digital copy I received for review purposes had good formatting and was pleasant on the eye. I began the book with eager anticipation, wanting to read more about early twentieth century England. I was not disappointed on that particular count, though.
When you read a book set in your home country, talking about events in connection with history as you knew it, there is a certain amount of comparison going on in the back of your mind about other books about that period of history, and a thirst to read and accumulate more details about how the country and the lifestyle of the people were in those years. The present day reader entirely relies on the author's writing prowess and depth of research to know the accuracy of the information unless a few events or scenes in the book blatantly disregard the common mood of that period.
Everlasting lies is a book about relationships and human emotions. But it is not as simple as that. What actually kept me engaged with the book itself was the good writing, despite certain scenes making me want to keep it aside for some time before I could regain a neutral perspective and continue reading. The lead characters, Charles and Edina, are married due to an early pregnancy and aren't really emotionally attached. Then when circumstances force them apart, promiscuity rears its head and before long, both of them have affairs. I loved how the author has evoked the righteous emotions from the reader where the lead characters are involved, and a wide range of emotions it is - ranging from shock, surprise, anger, justification and understanding. It is with the power of her words that she has managed to get the readers involved.
Where the book falters, at least according to me, is in the ending and the gross misrepresentation of women from the Eastern world. The book seems, at places, a generalised account of individual experiences that were vaguely documented. It is tricky to write about such events that are sure to kick up a hornet's nest. The actual unbiased reader does understand that there might have been some basis in fact or some precedent. But the author seems to have conveniently forgotten to base the story on actual facts and has changed the entire scenario to fit the perspective to please a majority of readers (if such readers are pleased to know, however falsely, about the easy availability of certain womenfolk from a country) and has victimised the wrong side, carefully wording her story to give the impression that men were lured by them instead of them bending down to their sadistic, power hungry demands. And no amount of brilliant writing could disguise or gloss over this blatant disregard of a whole culture.
The whole story of the lead pair's marriage, the events leading to it, and the pain of a loveless union, not to mention clandestine affairs have all been dealt with beautifully with the right words. As with any book, the power is with the words and in that, this is a good piece of writing. This book, simply with the style of its naturally brilliant writing, is sure to evoke strong emotions from its readers. But as to what emotions it brings forth, that is solely dependent on the reader's mindset and their perspective on the content of the story. This book is a natural success in terms of good writing but requires a little more impartial unbiased outlook where the story and events are considered.
WHAT I LIKED:
- The historical setting of the novel is a treat to read.
- The novel does not seem like the work of a first time author, and that is commendable
- The emotions, characters and scene settings are so real and transport the reader to the place.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
- The blase description of eastern women (a gross generalisation) left a bad taste with me.
- The overall descriptions of certain events that are clearly misleading.
- The hurried, open ending that seemed a bit abrupt and unexpected in a way.
A good piece of writing, but not one you would praise for historical accuracy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Barbara Warren always has the pedal to the metal. Born in England and educated at a convent, she left school at sixteen and was selling encyclopedias in the roughest part of London at eighteen. She married and emigrated to Canada when she was twenty-three, had three charming daughters, went to university when she was thirty-six and retired from teaching in her mid-fifties.
Then she pursued her passion for the arts and for travel. She and her husband rode camels in India, elephants in Nepal and horses in Montana. They hitchhiked in Norway, cycled across Denmark and snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef. Barbara’s paintings grace homes in Canada, USA and Mexico and she designs her own clothes. She spends the winters in Mexico and the summers in the bible belt of southern Alberta.
Her first novel, Everlasting Lies, tells the story of her grandparents’ love affairs with each other and with others. They struggle to survive in the last years of Victorian England and the horrors of WW1 and then start a new life with four children in Imperial India.
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover
PRICE $5.97 for Kindle, $14.57 for Paperback, $24.99 for Hardcover
BOOK LINKS: Amazon