For most of my reads I am focused on connecting with a character or finding an experience that resonates with me or at least one that sparks some passion in me. Big Lies in a Small Town did none of that for me and yet I still really enjoyed the read.
I signed up for this one as part of our North Carolina authors book club so I had no idea what I was going into beforehand. I really enjoyed the experience of figuring out how all these drastically different characters fit together. The weaving of the two stories with varying POVs was masterfully done.
This book is about three artists in a small town separated by sixty years. In the 1940’s a competition for a muralist brings a young Yankee girl to a small town in North Carolina to paint a mural for the post office. When she arrives, she is quickly unsettled by the stark differences in culture from the world she knows.
She attempts to persevere through the chauvinism and prejudices of the town determined to make her mark. In modern times, a young girl is paroled from prison with one of her community service requirements hinging on her restoring the very same mural. As the two time periods progress we get to unravel the mystery of how and why each woman’s lives have been so entwined with completing this mural. What I appreciate about Chamberlain’s writing is that she was able to cover topics that I didn’t know much about by imparting only the essential details it did not feel like she was over-explaining or condescending to the reader. There are lots of details about mural painting and restoration without it being overwhelming.
I didn’t connect with either woman as I found them in general to be rather meek unless they were focus on their craft and that’s where the passion shown through. They both seemed really challenged to manage their personal and social lives which frustrated me. In the novel in both timelines the men were all extremely capable and put together which in contrast to the women was off-putting for me. There are also many trigger warnings although those are spoilers but be prepared for some physical and sexual violence in conjunction with the racism.
Thanks to St Martin’s Press for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.