It’s rare that a book completely blows me away to the point that, several days after finishing it, I am still thinking about the characters. Well, that has happened with Big Lies in a Small Town, by Diane Chamberlain. I read the ARC of this outstanding book courtesy of St. Martin’s Press.
In 1940, a young artist named Anna Dale from New Jersey wins a national contest to paint a mural in the post office of Edenton, North Carolina. Having just lost her mother, Anna is alone in the world, and new in the small seaside town. Unprepared for the small-town culture and deeply ingrained prejudices, Anna soon finds her life in danger.
After working diligently on the mural, Anna seems to “go crazy” and disappears. The mural is never finished, and it, too, disappears.
In 2018, another young art student, Morgan Christopher, finds her life completely derailed when she takes the blame for her boyfriend’s drunk-driving accident that left a young girl paralyzed. For this she goes to prison; and the boyfriend goes to law school on a full scholarship.
After serving one year of her three-year sentence, visitors come to the prison with a proposal for her: accept an art restoration job and earn her freedom plus $50,000. Her lodging and art supplies will be provided. The job? Clean and repair an old mural for the Edenton, NC, post office. Underneath the dirt, grime, and cracked paint, the canvas reveals clues to Anna’s disappearance and to a murder.
With Big Lies in a Small Town, Ms. Chamberlain has woven a mesmerizing story of sadness, joy, fear, gender bias, racial prejudice, abuses of many types, and a little romance, too. This is truly one of the best books I have read in a long time. You have to read this book.
What made The Grumpy Book Reviewer grumpy?
The usual things, multiple split infinitives, misplacement of the word only within sentences, using “bring” in place of “take”.