Author: Randy Susan Meyers
The Comfort of Lies is told from the perspective of three very different women, all struggling with issues that they vowed would remain locked up within themselves – until the day that one of them unwittingly starts them all on a collision course that could end disastrously.
Meyers has addressed concerns facing women all across the world in a way that is sensitive and gives you no choice but to feel for these women, even though there are times they all act deplorably.
The story begins with an illicit affair, Tia is madly in love with a married man. She envisages a happily ever after that is never going to happen and when she tells Nathan she’s pregnant things get even worse for Tia. The only thing he can say is ‘take care of it’ and Tia knows that just isn’t possible for her, she has sinned enough just by having the affair so there is no way she can abort her unborn child but now she is faced with going it alone. Her mother is terminally ill and Tia cares for her on her own as long as possible, before moving her to a hospice. Tia knows she can’t do it alone, she moved from the neighbourhood she grew up in so that no-one would know about the pregnancy except her mother, so she spends her pregnancy searching for prospective parents for her unborn baby. Tia thought an identified adoption was the best choice so she pores over applications and when the deal is done ensures that when the time is right her child will be able to contact her.
Nathan returns home one day to his wife and sons, crippled with guilt, and confesses the affair. Juliette is devastated but they work through it, slowly. He is still madly in love with his wife and wants his family together. It’s a long road but they salvage the marriage, though there is always an undercurrent and the relationship is more fragile than ever before. The hardest thing for Juliette to come to terms with is WHY and Nathan can never answer the question satisfactorily. He loves his wife, he loves his family, he was never unsatisfied.
Caroline loves her life exactly as it is, she’s not sure she wants it to change. She loves her job as a pathologist and the freedom to work the hours she needs to. Peter feels the economy changing and thinks this is the perfect time to start the family he so desires, Caroline allows herself to be swayed and they start looking for a child to adopt. Caroline and Peter are the couple chosen by Tia to adopt her child.
Every year, around her birthday, Tia receives a brief note and a couple of photos of her daughter. These are kept as secret as the entire process has been until her fifth birthday when everything begins to unravel.
I’m still not quite sure of Tia’s motivations, but she wasn’t sure either, when she decides to contact Nathan with news of Savannah after her 5th birthday. She sends a letter with a photo from each year and posts it to Nathan with all of her contact details, and a return address with her name on the back of the envelope. Juliette spots the letter and when she recognises the name she feels the foundations of her life begin to waver once more. Everything they have worked on for 5 years is threatened and Juliette needs to know what is in the envelope, trust be damned. Everything is shattered when she discovers the affair produced a child and Juliette just doesn’t know where to go from here, this is an extremely big thing to leave out of the confession and it makes her question everything. Rather than confront Nathan immediately Juliette takes time to process this information and try to work out what it means for her.
The story is told from the perspectives of Caroline, Juliette and Tia in alternating chapters. We get to watch first hand the affects this adoption has had on all of them up to this point and what it may do to their futures. Juliette’s discovery and her at times unhinged reactions are going to change everything for everyone involved, and we get to watch it all unfold.
There are elements of this situation that each of these women have kept to themselves, things they have lied about – to themselves and those they love. They have tried to keep things as neat and tidy as possible by keeping things to themselves and it hasn’t done anyone any favours. Juliette forces them all to face these omissions and untruths so that they can heal themselves, and their relationships, and move forward.
There are times that the actions of all three leading ladies were completely foreign to me and made it difficult for me to like them but most of the time I could understand where they were coming from. Their emotions are ones that we all experience at some point and not all of them are ones we would want to admit to, or ever be proud of. It’s about how we deal with these emotions and what we do to move past them. That’s what The Comfort of Lies teaches us, it’s not about the dark moments it’s about how you move past them and make them better.
A lot of the literature they have all read talks about the importance of doing what’s best for the adopted child and sometimes this is the furthest thing from these adults minds, it made me so sad for Savannah. Knowing that she was so completely loved but could also be so completely destroyed if she became the pawn that it looked like she might.
Thankfully these women all grew immeasurably throughout the story, they discovered things about themselves that were sometimes difficult but taught them things they may never have learnt without this situation. A book I thoroughly enjoyed with women whose strength was admirable.