Book Review : Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

February 2, 2015 Book review 25 ★★★★★

Lately I’ve had a distinct lack of 5 stars reads and I was wondering was I getting too critical, too hard to please.  Until I read Necessary Lies and it reconfirmed that I wasn’t.   The 5 star rating glittered out from every page and it made me remember that when you read a 5 star book, you don’t have to think about.  It just is.

Book Review : Necessary Lies by Diane ChamberlainNecessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain
Published by St Martins Press on September 3rd 2013
Genres: Contemporary Women, Depression & Mental Illness, Emotions & Feelings, Family Life, Historical Fiction
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Buy on Amazon

After losing her parents, fifteen-year-old Ivy Hart is left to care for her grandmother, older sister and nephew as tenants on a small tobacco farm.  As she struggles with her grandmother’s aging, her sister’s mental illness and her own epilepsy, she realizes they might need more than she can give.

When Jane Forrester takes a position as Grace County’s newest social worker, she doesn’t realize just how much her help is needed.  She quickly becomes emotionally invested in her clients' lives, causing tension with her boss and her new husband.  But as Jane is drawn in by the Hart women, she begins to discover the secrets of the small farm—secrets much darker than she would have guessed.

Soon, she must decide whether to take drastic action to help them, or risk losing the battle against everything she believes is wrong.  Set in rural Grace County, North Carolina in a time of state-mandated sterilisations and racial tension, Necessary Lies tells the story of these two young women, seemingly worlds apart, but both haunted by tragedy.  Jane and Ivy are thrown together and must ask themselves: how can you know what you believe is right, when everyone is telling you it’s wrong?

First Line of Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain:

“It was an odd request – visit a stranger’s house and peer inside a closet – and as I drove through the neighbourhood searching for the address, I felt my anxiety mounting.”

My Thoughts on Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain:

I absolutely adored it!  Confession first, this was one of the oldest unread ARC’s I had.  For some reason every time I looked at the synopsis, it just never appealed to me.  But then I read an interview with Diane Chamberlain over at Confessions of a Book Geek and it just renewed my interest in reading this book.  And I still wasn’t expecting to fall head over heels in love with it but that’s exactly what happened.

I read most of the book in one sitting and that rarely happens to me but I was engrossed and couldn’t put it down.  The Southern atmosphere in the book really fascinated me and everything was so well described that I didn’t feel like I was reading a book, it was like watching a movie play out in my head.

The characters are wonderfully developed.  It focuses on two sisters and a social worker who is assigned to their family.  I love books about sisters and this one is different as the sisters are a bit like ships in the night.  They are aware of each other, in close physical proximity but don’t have a huge emotional connection.  Mary Ella, the older sister is naive and vulnerable.  Ivy is 15 years old but has the responsibility of her whole family on her shoulders (her grandmother, her fragile sister, her nephew).  And I wanted to ease the burden but it just got heavier and heavier as the book wove on.

Jane is the Social Worker; it’s her first job out in the field.  She is kind, well-meaning and has the girl’s best interests at heart.  But she has no back up from the system.  Jane is put into horrible ethical corners and my heart just bled for everyone concerned.

Necessary Lies deals with forced sterilisation which I wasn’t overly familiar with before reading.  And the one thought that kept coming into my head was this was 1960, it’s not THAT long ago, how could this have happened.  It’s an emotional, intense and heavy plot but it’s balanced out by how much I cared about all the characters.

Overall I’m waving two thumbs enthusiastically in the air.  And what’s even more exciting is that I’ve got a large back catalogue of Diane Chamberlain books to catch up.  Expect more reviews soon!


Rating Report
Did I feel it?
Overall: five-stars


Who should read Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain?

I can’t recommend this highly enough to you if you enjoy historical fiction, with rich character development and intense, emotional plots.  If you enjoyed This Fragile Life by Kate Hewitt then I think you’d also like this one.   Fans of authors such as Jodi Picoult and Jane Green should also enjoy.

Thanks to NetGalley and St Martin’s Press for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest unbiased review.




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25 Responses to “Book Review : Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain”

  1. Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library

    Diane Chamberlain is an author I’m really looking forward to reading but this looks like it may be a touch too heavy for me. I knew that forced sterilizations happened but thankfully it wasn’t wide spread even though that doesn’t make it any less horrific to the people it affected. Great review! I’ll keep it in mind but I’m not sure I’m tough enough!
    Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library recently posted…Criminal Confections – Blog Tour Review

    • trish

      I know, I think that’s why I kept it on my shelf for nearly a year and a half before I read it. And it was heavy and intense but so worth reading.

  2. R_Hunt @ View From My Home

    Wow, I know you are “tougher” with your ratings than I am, even after I changed up mine this year, so this must be a really good read. I had considered it in the library last year, but wasn’t sure if it was too depressing for me or not. Your review makes me want to pick it up soon. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts. (by the way, I already have 4 5-star books this year, lol).
    R_Hunt @ View From My Home recently posted…Breaking Creed Review

    • trish

      I was afraid of how heavy the topic would be too and that is why I delayed reading it for so long. But it’s so well handled and the characters are so interesting that it all worked perfectly for me.

    • trish

      I wasn’t sure it was a me book and that’s why I left it hanging around for nearly a year and a half. But one chapter was enough to convince me!

    • trish

      I know I’ll be adding more DC books very, very soon! Thanks for the interview as it really piqued my interest in DC 🙂

  3. Bookworm Brandee

    I don’t know that I would have picked up this one, Trish, so I’m happy to know it’s a stellar read. You have me curious about it – the Southern atmosphere and sisters dealing with so much. It’s going on my tbr. Great review!
    Bookworm Brandee recently posted…Teaser Tuesday ~ #55

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