Book Review

To Tell You the Truth by Gilly Macmillan

Lucy Harper has a talent for invention…

She was nine years old when her brother vanished in the woods near home. As the only witness, Lucy’s story of that night became crucial to the police investigation. Thirty years on, her brother’s whereabouts are still unknown.

Now Lucy is a bestselling thriller writer. Her talent for invention has given her fame, fortune, and an army of adoring fans. But her husband, Dan, has started keeping secrets of his own, and a sudden change of scene forces Lucy to confront some dark, unwelcome memories. Then Dan goes missing and Lucy’s past and present begin to collide. Did she kill her husband? Would she remember if she did?

Finally, Lucy Harper is going to tell us the truth.

Cross her heart.

And hope to die.


I expect that I will be in the minority with this one, but I’m sorry to say that this novel just wasn’t for me. 

There were things that I liked about it.  I like having a main protagonist who is an author.  I think that this gives an interesting insight into the publishing process, and Lucy being a crime writer puts her in an awkward position when her husband, Dan, goes missing – was all of that research purely for her own fiction, or has she turned it to a more practical use?  Lucy is a sensitive character, introverted and lacking in confidence, and it’s clear that her research has affected her in other ways, particularly as she becomes convinced that her husband is gaslighting her.  It’s hard to say whether this is paranoia on her part or if there is indeed something going on – she’s an unreliable narrator and while Dan’s behaviour raises some questions, it’s hard to know how much of Lucy’s view of events is accurate as she lets her imagination run wild.

There were some aspects to Lucy’s character that didn’t work for me, however.  I wanted to shake her repeatedly and tell her to grow a backbone.  She’s far too accepting of her husband’s behaviour as he spends the money that she has earned through her writing and pursuing deadline after deadline while he lives the life of Riley.  Additionally, much of the novel relies upon Lucy having an imaginary friend, Eliza, and while I could understand this if it were simply Lucy giving her internal monologue an identity as she thinks things through, I felt that it went beyond that.  I may have taken too literal a reading of this aspect of the novel, but “Eliza” sometimes takes control, becoming something of an alter ego – one who is braver and spunkier than Lucy, and while it was good to see a stronger side of her, I just didn’t get on with the concept.

That said, the story itself is interesting, although I struggled a little with the first third of the novel as it builds up to a pivotal moment in the novel.  After that point, I found the narrative more engaging, and I wanted to know what happened.  I thought that the flashbacks to Lucy’s childhood worked well, helping the reader to understand more about her brother’s disappearance all those years ago.  The mystery of her husband’s disappearance is also intriguing, particularly with Lucy being an unreliable narrator. 

Many thanks to the publisher for the opportunity to read and review the novel in advance of its publication.  I think that it will find wider appeal, but sadly just didn’t work for me.

To Tell You the Truth will be published on 25 June by Century.

7 comments

    1. Thank you, Nicki! I guess that we can’t like all the books, but it’s a shame as I like the premise of this one x

  1. You make extremely good points! I too thought about Eliza as more than just the idea of her inner monologue; after all, Lucy herself says that Eliza takes control more than once in the book! Also, I agree about her behavior towards her husband. I would have kicked his ass long ago! Such a twat! I wasn’t sad he disappeared! But weirdly, those elements helped me enjoy the book! 🙂 Fab review!

    1. Thanks, Meggy! Wasn’t he awful?! I too was glad that he disappeared – I did like that it gave Lucy chance to take back some control, even though it took her a little while to work out how! x

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