Thursday, November 7, 2013

Blog Tour: LIES YOU WANTED TO HEAR by James Whitfield Thomson

To thine own self be true,
And it must follow as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
William Shakespeare

Sourcebooks Landmark (November 5, 2013), ebook
Genre: contemporary fiction, drama
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Buy it on Amazon

Book description

Alone in an empty house, Lucy tries to imagine the lives of her two young children. They have been gone for seven years, and she is tormented by the role she played in that heartbreaking loss. You can hardly see a glimpse of the sexy, edgy woman she used to be. Back then, she was a magnet for men like Matt, who loved her beyond reason, and Griffin, who wouldn't let go but always left her wanting more. Now the lies they told and the choices they made have come to haunt all three of them.

With shattering turns, Lies You Wanted to Hear explores the way good people talk themselves into doing terrible, unthinkable things. What happens when we come to believe our own lies? And what price must we pay for our mistakes?

  My review
The lies we want to hear are the easiest to tell. They are easier than the truth. Deceiving ourselves is even easier and certainly more hurtful. Lies and self-deception are the key elements of this modern day tragedy: lies are the shaky grounds laying at the base of an unbalanced relationship; lies drag a marriage to its painful disintegration and an entire family to self-destruction; lies lead two fundamentally good people to their own ruin and one of them to the extremes of an exceedingly cruel act.

Lucy and Matt's story is a dramatic spectacle of human suffering, as introspective and realistic as Ingmar Bergman's cinematographic masterpiece Scenes From A Marriage (1973), as heart-shuttering and iconic as Avery Corman's Kramer vs. Kramer (1977),  as tragically romantic as W. Somerset Vaugham's The Painted Veil (1925). The human drama of unrequited love seems to be a bottomless well of inspiration and we can always expect a seasoned wordsmith to elicit a deep emotional and  core-shaking response in his readers. James Whitfield Thomson, a sixty-eight year old author at his first novel, did it with dispassionate acumen and fluid penmanship. 

In Lies You Wanted To Hear, the author deftly 'disappears' in the folds of his family drama (an ability many a novelist hardly masters throughout a life-long career, let alone at his debut), letting his characters take turns and narrate their side of the story. "A story is never really finished" according to Thomson's mentor, Andre Dubus. The truth of a story is also never one-sided. With an expert and seamless use of alternate first person POVs, the author switches narrative planes, between past and present, between Lucy's and Matt's most intimate emotions and motivations, with an incredible talent for modulating his voice in relation to each character's perspective, gender and genesis. 

An ill-suited couple, Lucy and Matt Dobryshev walk to the altar with different expectations, but with the same amount of delusion. If differences of background and personality can be easily bridged (she is a shallow socialite, offspring of a well-to-do family of pathological liars and serial adulterers; he is your typical Steady Eddy, a granitic Boston cop, amiable, predictable and reliable), lies and false love foster guilt and resentment. When Lucy's former lover reappears, reeling her once again in the adrenaline-spiking whirlwind of a turbulent and addictive relationship, Matt won't stand a chance. He probably never did against the charming and sophisticated Griffin. What follows is the end of our couple's marriage and a bitter one at that: agonizing for years in a pool of guilt, boredom, and post-partum depression,  and finally crushed under the weight of a brutal fight for the custody of their children. No family court in Massachussetts will ever take custodial rights away from Lucy, even in the light of her ineptitude as a mother, but when her reckless behavior puts her children's safety in grave danger, Matt won't hesitate to do something unforgivable, but in his opinion absolutely necessary. Hard to say whether his choice is the only possible way to save his children from a self-destructive mother, or a way to punish the only woman he will ever love for all the hurt caused by her lies. 

I couldn't side with any of these characters: in the face of their weakness and flawed humanity, I could only surrender myself to a heartfelt compassion. 

***ARC Review copy graciously offered by the publisher via NetGalley in return of an unbiased and honest opinion.

About the author 

James Whitfield Thomson grew up on the North Side of Pittsburgh and attended Harvard College on scholarship. After graduation he served three years in the Navy as navigator of a supply ship off the coast of Vietnam. Jim earned a Ph.D. in American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, writing his dissertation on the detective novelist Raymond Chandler. Following a brief stint teaching literature in academia, he joined a start-up venture as a salesman. The company’s rapid success allowed him to retire early and devote himself to writing. He has published stories in a number of literary magazines including Agni and The Ledge and has been a Massachusetts Council for the Arts grant recipient. Jim and his wife, Elizabeth, live in a Victorian farmhouse outside of Boston and have five globe-trotting children. Lies You Wanted to Hear is his first published novel. You can find him on Facebook or at

Blog Tour Schedule
November 4 - A Bookish Affair
November 6 - Utah Mom's Life
November 7 – Mina’s Bookshelf
November 8 – Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
November 9 - A Novel Review
November 11 - From the TBR Pile
November 12 - Chick Lit Plus
November 13 - Rainy Day Ramblings
November 18 - Cheryl's Book Nook
November 19 - Allodoxophobia
November 20 - Bookhounds
November 21 - Rather Be Reading
November 22 - Cocktails and Books
November 25 - Chick Lit Central
November 26 – Linus’s Blanket


  1. Brilliant review Mina! Just brilliant. And a debut novel at the age of 68! There's hope for an old gal like me yet! Wonderful share! Thank you! (And apologies if this message appears twice~~little glitch!)

    1. Thomson is the living testimony that true talent never goes to waste. So happy for him! Thank you for checking in, Maryellen :)