I love a good period drama set in the south. Thank you to Random House Publishing Group for gifting me with an advanced copy of Annie Barrows' The Truth According to Us, in exchange for an honest review.
PLOT - Layla Beck is the daughter of a United States Senator. She is well taken care of and will remain so, if she agrees to marry the man her parents have chosen for her. When she calls off the engagement, her father cuts her off. Layla's uncle uses his influence to get her a job through the Federal Writer's Project and although she lacks writing experience, she is sent to the small town of Macedonia, West Virginia, to document the town's history.
She rooms with the Romeyn family and quickly falls under the spell of Felix Romeyn. Felix is the oldest brother and he lives with his sister Jottie and his daughters, Willa and Bird, in their inherited family home. As she conducts her interviews and goes deeper into researching Macedonia's history, Layla learns of long buried secrets.
LIKE - The Truth According to Us is primarily a character driven story and Barrows' has created several strong and memorable characters. She shifts between perspectives, including Jottie ( a beautiful, heartbroken spinster), Willa ( Felix's young daughter) and Layla. I loved Barrows' ability to create such a rich and detailed environment. Macedonia, with its humid summer evenings and quirky residents is very much the main character of the novel. I like how we get two perspectives of the town, first through the direct narrative of its inhabitants and second, through the story that Layla is writing. Excerpts of Layla's story are spliced throughout the narrative. The story is set in the late 1930's and Barrows has clearly done her research to make the era come alive. The Truth According to Us transported me to another era and it was an enjoyable ride.
DISLIKES- I had some mild confusion when it came to the family secrets that were revealed at the end of the story. The pace of the novel is leisurely until the end with the twist. There was a quick, information overload that I had to actually stop and reread to make sure that I was understanding the scenario. I think that part of my confusion might have been that my mind was starting to drift. I found the first half of the novel to be more engaging than the second. I loved the family and the town, but I was less interested in the secrets.
RECOMMEND- Yes. The Truth According to Us is a beautifully written story and would be of interest to people who like depression era fiction. The plot has a great deal of family drama and a touch of romance, all told through the eyes of strong and sassy women.