BOOK CLUB: Big Lies in a Small Town

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[Total: 3 Average: 5]

Author: Diane Chamberlain
ISBN: 9781250087331
Copy courtesy of Pan Macmillan

Big Lies in a Small Town is the latest offering by American author Diane Chamberlain.   It is told in two timelines – North Carolina, USA in 1940 & 2018.

Anna Dale is a young graduate of an art school in New Jersey and is fortunate enough to have won a 48 States Mural competition to paint a mural in the southern town of Edenton, North Carolina on the post office.   This required her to become familiar with the area and select appropriate subject matter to adorn the mural. 

She hadn’t expected to win the competition and it was terrible timing for her as she had just buried her mother. She had never been down south and was not looking forward to the racism and segregation that the area was known for. However, she had no choice but to do this as she really needed the money that the prize provided.  She did not expect to find that a favourite son of the area had also entered the competition and had not been successful, so she was behind the 8 ball from the start.

Morgan Christopher was stunned to be called to a meeting with a once in a lifetime opportunity to be released from prison where she had spent months behind bars, fearing for her life daily.   She was imprisoned for a motor vehicle accident that she was innocent of which left a young girl in a wheelchair for life.  

She was offered the opportunity to restore an old mural which one of the lady’s father had and had to be hung in a brand-new gallery that was being built.   She would be paid handsomely for this task, but it had to be done by a certain date.   As she is in the process of this restoration, she learns a lot about the secrets that are hidden inside this mural and discovers a lot about herself at the same time.

This was an excellent novel, it covered so many things and gave a pretty accurate depiction of life in North Carolina and the racism that existed in this small town.  It was a real page-turner with alternating chapters about Morgan & Anna which kept you engaged from start to finish. It will appeal to readers of historical fiction & women’s fiction.  

Thank you so much to Beauty & Lace Books and Pan Macmillan for a copy of this book for review purposes.

A selection of our members are reading Big Lies in a Small Town. You can read their feedback in the comments section below, or leave your own review!

10 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Big Lies in a Small Town

  1. Big Lies in a Small Town is a fascinating book with a beautifully interwoven plot involving narratives about two key characters – Morgan (present day) and Anna (past). Morgan, currently serving a prison term, gets an opportunity to restore an old mural. The mural was painted by Anna 70 years earlier, and is shrouded in various mysteries which are immediately compelling and engaging for the reader. The book moves forward quite quickly and the story is interesting on the surface, but when you delve more deeply into the underlying exploration of race and place, it shines. Dianne Chamberlain has produced a high quality novel that will appeal to readers of historical fiction, women’s fiction and anyone wanting something a bit different. A very enjoyable read – thanks to Pan Macmillan and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read and review.

  2. Art student Morgan Christopher was jailed for a crime in North Carolina. Thing is, she’s innocent. In a quirky turn of events she’s suddenly released on bail, on condition she restores a massive mural that was once to grace a Post Office wall in the 1940s in Edenton, North Carolina. The deadline is only a couple of months away and Morgan is semi-panicked she won’t be able to finish on time, but also because she knows nothing about restoration. Still, she makes a shaky start, and discovers that under the dirt and grime the mural begins to reveal a few startling secrets. This is a fascinating story with a dual time line: Morgan’s story in the present, and that of the artist who painted the original mural, Anna Dale, over 1939-40. Mixed into the story are incredible revelations about art, Edenton, race relations in Anna Dale’s time in the town, and the tangled trail crime and families sometimes take through the years. Long-forgotten incidents are revealed, dark secrets, and there is a terrific shock twist at the end. Diane Chamberlain’s style is easy to read, but so gripping you won’t want to put this book down. Thoroughly enjoyed it!
    Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australian and Beauty & Lace Bookclub for this review edition.

  3. Big Lies In A Small Town is an amazing book
    Author Diane Chamberlain 10/10 for this book beautifully written
    North Carolina in the 1940s where things are so different from 2018 each chapter is headed with the dates so easy to read
    Edenton is an actual town which I found fascinating and this town still has a large african american population
    The story of Morgan is amazing from start to finish with an ending I never saw coming
    I throughly enjoyed reading this book

  4. Big Lies in a Small Town is an enthralling read. Initially I found it a little slow to get into but once I did, I could not put it down.

    This book is well written & the differences between the two timelines were well woven together.

    The story was unpredictable & had me engaged, although I could have done without the very last twist. I felt that part was a little unnecessary but understand that it tied everything together.

    Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australian and Beauty & Lace Bookclub for this review edition

  5. Big Lies in a Small Town was a brilliant read and I think I enjoyed it so much as I haven’t really read anything like it before. It’s the story of two key characters – Morgan (present day) and Anna (past). The book flicks back and forth between the two character’s stories but it was very clear whose story was being narrated. The weaving together of the two stories was done brilliantly.

    Morgan, an art student is given an opportunity to restore an old mural which was painted by Anna 70 years earlier. What Morgan doesn’t understand is why she was given the opportunity and as she begins the restoration, she starts to question Anna’s story around the painting. At the same time, Anna’s story of the painting begins to unravel.

    There are many themes which come through in this book including race, family, domestic violence, friendship and love. I hesitated to finish the book as I didn’t want it to end.

    This is my first Chamberlain novel and if it’s anything to go by, I will be reading more! Thanks to Pan Macmillan and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read and review this book!

  6. Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain, has proved to be another book by this author that hooks the reader in from the very first pages.

    The story intertwines, 22 year old artist Morgan Christopher who is in prison for driving under the influence, which has left a girl paralyzed, and 22 year old artist Anna Dale who in 1939 was commissioned to paint a mural for the post office wall in a small town called Edenton. Anna never completed the mural and disappeared never to be heard of again.

    Its 2018 and Morgan has been in prison for 12 months when she has a visit from a layer and the daughter of one of her favorite artists, they make her an offer she can’t refuse, If she restores the mural she will be released from prison and earn $50,000.00.

    The story goes back and forth from 1939 and 2018 with every chapter and is very easy to follow. I loved how Ms Chamberlain develops each character in this story,She touches on domestic violence, mental health and prejudices.

    I was drawn in trying to solve the mystery, and the end has an unexpected revelation. I give this book 4 ½ stars. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Pan Macmillian

  7. Big Lies in a Small Town is the newest offering from best selling author Diane Chamberlain. Set in Edenton, a small town in North Carolina, it follows the life of Morgan Christiansen in 2018 and that of Anna Dale in 1940, both of whom are artists coming to terms with recent misfortune, and a mural that links them.

    Anna Dale is mourning the loss of her beloved mother when she is chosen from a competition to paint a mural for the post office of Edenton, a town she has never visited, and knows nothing about. With reservations about whether or not she can complete the assignment, she none the less sets off to the small town and soon comes to know and love the people and place. But there is a dark side to the town that soon finds its way into her life, and her painting.

    Art student Morgan Christiansen finds herself serving a three year prison sentence for a crime she did not commit, when she is suddenly given the option of early parole, on the condition that she help restore an old post office mural in time for a gallery opening. Completely out of her depth she none the less jumps at the opportunity. Morgan soon finds herself drawn to the enigmatic artist, Anna Dale, and curious to learn more about the mysterious woman who seemingly disappeared after completing the intriguing mural.

    I found this book a little hard to get into at first, but ended up enjoying it thoroughly. It was an interesting portrayal of life in the 40s in the southern states of America and I liked the way it tied up nicely at the end, while still leaving some storylines to the imagination.

    There was one error in the timeline where a chapter started with ‘since the anniversary of her mother’s death…’ when her mother had actually only passed away 4 months before, and the previous chapter had been discussing the first of her mother’s birthdays since her passing, not the anniversary. Other than that it was well written and nicely paced.

    Many thanks to Pan Macmillan and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read this book.

  8. I really enjoyed reading Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain.
    I actually had to stop myself reading the book straight through in one sitting as I wanted to savour it for another evening.
    Although admittedly I found the story a little hard to get into at first, once I had a feel for the characters I was away.
    The novel follows the life of two important character’s , Morgan and Anna . Morgan living in 2018 and Anna living in 1939.
    A story of two lives in two very different times, mystery and intrigue, domestic violence and acts of prejudice , friendships and love.
    If you like a shocking twist you never saw coming at the end of a great read then Big Lies in a Small Town is definitely for you.
    A beautifully written novel.
    I would highly recommend.
    Thanks to Pan Macmillan and Beauty and Lace for allowing me to read and review Big Lies in a Small Town By Dianne Chamberlain

  9. This was my first of Dianne Chamberlains book and I am now keen to try some of her others.

    Big lies in a Small Town followed 2 characters in two different time periods. It was easy to follow and I really was drawn into both of the characters lives.

    As always my biggest plus in a book is a twist, and this one had a great one. Highly recommend this book

  10. Big lies in a small town centres around the town of Edenton and spans across two different periods of time. In modern day 2018, prisoner Morgan is offered a chance for early release, all she has to do is restore a 1940’s mural. Sounds easy right?

    Fade back to1940, when New Jersey amateur artist Anna has been chosen as the mural artist for the small town of Edenton, against the wishes of some of the town’s influential people.

    I found this book a little slow to get into, the characters were well rounded and interesting and the story a bit round about but it got there in the end. A well written drama.

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