I’m honoured to be a part of the blog tour for Michael J. Malone’s A Suitable Lie, published by Orenda Books. Book post from Orenda Books is always very exciting for me. To date, I have not read a single book that Orenda Books has published that hasn’t been a really enjoyable read. It doesn’t matter what genre it falls into, there will always be something uniquely inviting about a book that has been selected as an addition to the Orenda Books bookshelf. That being said, there is always that worry that perhaps the next book I read won’t entice me as much as the others. So, it is always with a little trepidation when I start to read my Orenda book post. I needn’t have worried in the slightest!
A Suitable Lie tells the story of Andy Boyd, a widower whose wife died some years earlier whilst giving birth to his son, Pat. A thoroughly decent bloke, he loves his family, takes care of his Mum and works as a manager in the local bank. Content with enjoying his life with his young son and accepting that he has already met the love of his life albeit for a devastatingly short time, he is blindsided when he meets stunning Anna on a begrudged night out with his brother, Jim. He quickly falls in love with her and despite some misgivings by his family, he resolves that he has a second bite of the cherry and asks her to marry him. However, all is not as it seems, and as time passes, Andy has to face up to some difficult truths about the woman he has fallen for.
This is a remarkably difficult book to review without giving too much away but I will do my very best. Malone has taken an almost taboo subject and brought it kicking and screaming to the forefront of the reader’s psyche. We get a rarely-told perspective of how a good, honest man is slowly emasculated by a series of events that occur over the course of his relationship with Anna.
I went through every emotion possible whilst reading this book. I wept as the death of Andy’s wife was described, I laughed at the exchanges between Andy and Jim, I was frustrated as Andy fell deeper and deeper into the mire. A Suitable Lie defines the term “emotional rollercoaster” perfectly. What is brilliant about this narrative is how all the various sub-plots serve their purpose alongside the main plot. Each story plays its part in this psychological thriller, mostly to offer an alternative view and to highlight some ridiculous double standards in our society. Malone has a superb talent for building up the narrative so subtly and carefully that it is only when you reach the end the reader realises that they have read a book which has completely blown their mind. At least, that’s how it felt to me.
The contrast between the various characters works brilliantly as a vehicle to show the injustice of Andy’s situation, and of those like him. The juxtaposition of Andy’s and Sheila’s stories demonstrates how there is gender divide in how certain situations are viewed. Whilst Andy and Sheila feel the same sense of vulnerability, the same terror, the same impotency in their respective situations, the responses of those around them are completely different, which highlights the unfairness of how differently their situations are viewed purely because of their gender. Malone demonstrates this with incredible sensitivity and with a rounded view from all sides.
A Suitable Lie is beautifully written and pieced together by Malone. This novel is gripping from the first page to the last, with moments of discomfort and extreme violence, but every element necessary to grasp the desperate situation that Andy is in. There’s an overwhelming sense that there are many victims in this novel, which then encourages the reader to extend their thoughts to society in general. The situations depicted in this novel are real for many people in modern society and the reader is forced to consider their own views on both sides of the fence. It certainly made me question how I would view their situation. Andy is such an incredibly likable protagonist that the reader will undoubtedly be cheering him on throughout. Personally, I wanted to give him a big hug for most of the book, whilst imploring him to take a different course of action! Malone has written an absolute cracker of a book here, and I cannot recommend it enough.