The White Lie
In The White Lie, the first novel from memoirist Andrea Gillies (Keeper), one Scottish family has more than its fair share of secrets--and the lies are tearing them apart.
While he's unsure about "all the rest of it," narrator Michael Salter knows for certain he is dead. The 19-year-old son of the owners of the once grand Peattie House, Michael disappeared into the dark waters of the nearby loch during a struggle with Ursula, his aunt. At least, that's the story told by Ursula and corroborated by Alan, the grown son of the estate's handyman-gardener. Questions soon arise: Why would Ursula, who suffers from acute aquaphobia, have gone out on the loch in a boat? Is Alan, long assumed by the family to be Michael's father, trustworthy, or does he hold a grudge against Michael's mother, Ottelie, who never acknowledged his paternity? To protect the eccentric and deluded Ursula, the family members agree not to involve the police. To the outside world, Michael appears to have vanished without a trace; there are rumors of suicide.
A decade later, the family gathers for a birthday celebration. Truth and fiction blur as the family tries to decode its history and finds that the cover-up of Michael's reported death isn't the first of their lies. The true white lie goes back to the death of another scion of the family many years past.
Although set in modern times, Gillies's family drama with its aristocratic setting and myriad intricacies will intrigue Downton Abbey fans. Moments of unexpected levity buoy the overall sadness of the plot, as Michael uncovers the truth about his demise. Readers will raise eyebrows at the scandals of a deliciously dysfunctional dynasty. --Jaclyn Fulwood