Melanie Lange has disappeared.
Her father, Sir Peter Lange, says she is a danger to herself and has been admitted to a private mental health clinic.
Her ex-husband, Finn, and best friend, Nell, say she has been kidnapped.
The media will say whichever gets them the most views.
But whose side are you on?
The Ugly Truth may be packaged up like a thriller, but for me, it felt more like a character study of Mel, told through a mix of mediums, with some thriller elements thrown in. I found it utterly absorbing!
It definitely reminded me in many ways of Daisy Jones and the Six. This was partly because of the way the story is told – through a mix of voices and formats including chapters from her father’s tell-all book, interviews with friends and people who knew her, extracts from a Netflix documentary, Twitter messages and more – and partly because of its focus on celebrity culture. The book explores the effect the media had on Melanie and her family and highlights the way that not just the media but the general public can so suddenly turn against someone. It’s an interesting look at how this can affect someone’s mental health and general wellbeing, and whether this is fair – do people in the public eye choose that life and therefore deserve it?
The characters in this novel aren’t likeable – even Melanie can be irritating at times – but they were all intriguing to read about, as is the mystery aspect running throughout the book. What has happened to Melanie really? Whose version of events should we believe? We start to wonder who is reliable and who is covering their own backs. But to me, this side of the narrative felt secondary to the great character-building that takes place. I was entirely absorbed just reading about Melanie’s life but usually, I’m all about the thriller side of any novel so this is a testament to some great writing!
The Ugly Truth did a brilliant job of drawing me in and not letting me go until the last page and I’d highly recommend it.
My rating: 5/5
The Ugly Truth is out in the UK on 16 March 2023. Pre-order on bookshop.org.
Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest review.