In the playground it’s the law of the jungle. At the school gate, there are no rules at all…Life is hard for Sadie Roper. Her ex-husband is unkind and domineering, she’s struggling with her return to work as a barrister after nearly ten years away from chambers, and her children hate their new school. They haven’t made any friends yet and neither has she. She’s at rock bottom when Liza, queen of the school gate, befriends her. Sadie is drawn into the heart of the world from which she was previously excluded, and both she and her kids start to thrive. So when Liza’s family comes under threat, Sadie is the first to offer support, too loyal to worry about the danger to which she and her children might be exposed. She’s keeping her friends close—what Sadie doesn’t know is that her enemies are closer still…
I really enjoyed Blood Orange, Harriet Tyce’s debut novel, so was excited to read The Lies You Told. This novel focuses more on drama around the school gates, with Sadie having hurriedly moved back to the UK with her daughter Robin who she enrolls in an exclusive school that she attended as a girl (and hated). There both mother and daughter experience the full force of ‘pushy mums’ – and not only pushy with their kids but also cruel, mean and judgemental towards anyone else they deem different to themselves.
As well as Sadie’s experiences of pushy, snobby and hostile parents, the story also focuses on her attempts to restart her career in law, having been abroad for so long, and as part of this we see her work on a case where a teacher has been accused of sexual assault against a pupil. Sadie and her team are defending the teacher but all the way through I was trying to work out if he is indeed innocent, as he claims to be. This adds another element of mystery to the plot.
I thought some aspects of Sadie’s battles with the other school mums were a little overdramatic and I wondered if anyone really behaves that way – but perhaps at schools like the one in the book, they do! It just felt a little over the top sometimes. In contrast, the storyline with the teacher feels down to earth and realistic. There’s also an added element of mystery in that we don’t know exactly what happened with Sadie’s husband back in America, and why they left so suddenly.
Overall I really enjoyed this novel, despite some parts feeling a little unbelievable. It’s entertaining and a solid domestic thriller and, though I didn’t think it beat Blood Orange, it’s still well worth a read.