Title: Seven Lies
Author: Elizabeth Kay
Published: April 14th 2020
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 stars
Jane and Marnie have been inseparable since they were eleven years old. They have a lot in common. In their early twenties they both fell in love and married handsome young men.
But Jane never liked Marnie’s husband. He was always so loud and obnoxious, so much larger than life. Which is rather ironic now, of course.
Because if Jane had been honest – if she hadn’t lied – then perhaps her best friend’s husband might still be alive . . .
This is Jane’s opportunity to tell the truth, the question is:
Do you believe her?
‘I wonder now – most days, in fact – if I hadn’t told that first lie, would I have told the others? I like to tell myself that the first lie was the least significant of them all. But that, ironically, is a lie.’
Stupefying, intriguing and unsteady are the best words I can find to attach to Elizabeth Kay’s debut thriller Seven Lies. The lines between truth, lies and everything grey in between defines this fatal psychological thriller. With a global record breaking campaign, including a major US publishing deal and an auction for TV rights, Seven Lies is predicted to be a much talked about novel. It was definitely an explosive read!
Meet childhood friends Jane and Marnie. With a friendship that began as eleven year olds, these two friends have weathered many storms together. One of these storms is Marnie’s marriage. Jane has detested Marnie’s husband from the get-go. But now Jane’s lies have caught up with her and Marnie’s husband is now deceased. What is Jane’s link to his death? As Jane recollects her feelings and memories, she exposes a litany of lies, secrets, friendship woes and dark moments. Seven Lies unfurls a story of love, loss, possession, concealment, dysfunctional relationships and mystery.
I tend to have a little routine going on when I first approach a novel by a new author I haven’t encountered before. I do a thorough read through of the author’s biography and I check the endorsements provided by fellow authors, or valued media outlets. In the case of Seven Lies, I was interested to see how a former assistant of Penguin Random House and a current commissioning editor would make the transition to a first time novelist. On the whole I quite enjoyed this book.
I admired the creative structure Seven Lies takes, so kudos to Elizabeth Kay. I really liked how the book was formatted into seven parts, each signaling a different lie, with an accompanying story to boot. Each lie seemed to form an essential building block to a tower that eventually took a big topple. I appreciated the intent and ingenuity of this approach, especially for a first time novelist. I think it made this book stand out from the crowd, especially as it is billed as a psychological thriller.
The more I think about this book, the more I am inclined to want to separate it from the label of a thriller. I think a domestic fiction label would be better, along with a complicated friendship tale. I am not discounting the psychological elements that are touched on in the novel, especially in regards to Jane. However, I think those expecting big spills and thrills will be a tad disappointed in Kay’s offering.
Jane is our guide and central protagonist in Seven Lies. Jane sure is a prickly character. I couldn’t pin her down at all. Jane also seemed to slip from my grasp over and over again which often infuriated me! I found my feelings towards Jane fluctuated a great deal and I think in the end I was so flustered that I decided to sit back and let the story take over. I think this is important, as trying to inject too much of your own responses to this novel can be quite strained and demanding. It is hard to stay objective with this one as Jane dominates the narration, our thoughts and opinions. I would love to have heard things from some of the other key figures who form an integral part of Jane’s life, such as Marnie, her mother, sister and late husband. Jane seems to torment and play with us as she reveals to an unclear listener her series of lies. It is hard not to assign an unreliable narrator label to Jane as she recounts these tales. Jane’s stories are recounted in an assertive and exposé confession style approach that draws you in close.
When I consider the writing of Elizabeth Kay, I would say it is confident, engaging, highly readable and fluid. The pace is maintained at an even rate. The story appears to be carefully plotted and a number of well time plot twists keeps the reader hooked, to safeguard any attention dips. There is a fair amount of progression towards a dark omen that you are not really prepared for until it happens. I’m not sure how I felt about the close, I’m still mulling that one over and I still can’t figure Jane out!
It is always good to see a new voice emerge in the publishing world. With themes of lies, truth, obsession, possession and beliefs defining the direction of Elizabeth Kay’s new novel, Seven Lies has the capacity to engage many awaiting readers.
Seven Lies by Elizabeth Kay is published by Hachette Australia on April 14th 2020. $32.99.
To learn more about the author of Seven Lies, Elizabeth Kay, visit here.
*Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.