“Oh what a tangled web we weave; When first we practice to deceive…”
Paul Morris is not a likeable man. In his early forties, a shallow, vain, unmarried, commitment-phobe, he tells so many lies, even HE cannot discern the truth sometimes. Why does he lie you ask? He is SO very egocentric, that he lies to make himself appear more successful, more urbane, more empathetic… just more. It is vitally important to him that people think well of him, though he uses people to his own advantage more often than not. He is obsessed with status and class, and he likes nothing more than being the center of attention.
“How much do we collude in our own destruction?”
We meet Paul in London where, for the past six years, he has been flat-sitting for an acquaintance. Of course, he lets people believe the Bloomsbury flat and its contents are his… He has had setbacks recently. His finances are at an all-time low, he drinks too much, his latest novel has been rejected, his much younger girlfriend has dumped him, AND the man who owns the flat is returning – therefore Paul must suffer the indignity of moving back in with his mother.
“So credible was my claim to decency, I half believed in it myself.”
Paul runs into Andrew, an old school acquaintance, who invites him to dinner. Always on the look-out for a free meal, he accepts the invitation. This act will alter his future. It is here he meets the widow Alice. Unlike his usual female conquests, she is a more mature woman with teenage children. He is uncharacteristically sexually attracted to her PLUS he sees her as a possible way of escaping his mother’s house. Alice is very comfortably off and has a nice house. He leads Alice to believe that he owns the Bloomsbury flat, that he is much more successful than he is. Unaware of Paul’s deception, Alice continues seeing him, until he finally wangles a way into accompanying her family on summer’s vacation in Greece. It turns out that this is not Paul’s first visit to the Pyros area of Greece.
“People with privilege always think they control the truth.”
The trip this year will be bittersweet. The house that Alice and her family have rented for many years is to be torn down to make way for a hotel resort. Paul doesn’t travel with the family, but makes his own way there in a more thrifty fashion. Upon arrival, he discovers the house is occupied by Alice and her children, and also Andrew and his wife and children. The constant noise of the nearby construction equipment in the daytime is followed by the unrelenting barking of the guard dog at night. The bugs and the heat are relentless…
The four adults and five teenagers spend their days languishing by the pool. Smoking, drinking, then in the evening, going into town for a meal. Then, a young girl is raped in the nearby town. A young girl that Paul had met on the bus when he arrived in the country. He is questioned by police. Because Alice is listening to his answers, he maintains his lies in order to mesh the facts with what he has already told her.
“If Alice hadn’t been present, I’d have told the truth.
But in that split second, I cared more for her opinion than his.”
Of course the police are not stupid, and when they cannot verify anything Paul has told them, they look upon him with suspicion.
Paul, meanwhile, is coming to really care for Alice.
“If only I hadn’t lied.”
Because of Paul’s immaturity at the beginning of the novel, and his subsequent evolving, I would almost class this as a ‘coming of age’ novel – even though he is in his forties. Call him a late-bloomer.
Events near the end of novel escalate in a frenzied manner. The reader is taken aback by the plot twists and I for one was impressed by the ingenious plot. This is a novel of manipulation, betrayal, and retribution.
The title of this novel “Lie with me” is a double entendre. Lie as in have sex with, and of course, lie as in deceiving others.
Note: This novel should be read with a cool beverage at hand. The descriptions of the hot, sultry Greek days are excellent – so much so that you can ‘feel‘ the heat and ‘see‘ the hot Greek sun reflecting off the white buildings. Impressive for a reader who read the book in the middle of a Nova Scotia winter.
“Lie with me” is the third title I’ve read by Sabine Durrant, and she has never disappointed me. Her description and characterization are of the highest quality and the plots are well rendered – this one was genius! I always thought I had to ‘like‘ a protagonist to really enjoy a novel. Sabine Durrant has taught me that I don’t have to like them, they just have to be well characterized and written with empathy.
I highly recommend “Lie with me” to any reader who really enjoys a character-based, slow-burn, psychological thriller.I requested this book on NetGalley, but sadly I was declined. Therefore, due to my high regard for this author, I bought a Kindle copy. Money well spent!
Read my review of another favorite thriller by Sabine Durrant: “Under your skin“.
I missing reading one of her novels “Remember me this way“, but it is patiently waiting on my Kindle for future enjoyment.SABINE DURRANT writes for the Sunday Telegraph and is a contributor to The Guardian. She is the author of the novels Having It and Eating It and The Great Indoors, as well as two books for teenagers. Her thrillers Under your skin, Remember me this way, and Lie with me have a devoted fan-base. She lives in London.