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Beautiful Lies Hardcover – September 18, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
Maribel was the wife of a late-19th century liberal politician capable of making strong enemies. Unfortunately, she came across as only a foolish woman who, despite beautiful lies, was not particularly interesting or even particularly likable. She and her husband were both multifaceted, but her friend Charlotte was too good to be real.
What I liked about the novel is the information on the politics and attitudes of the period, and that the major characters, although fictionalized, were based on real people. I liked that other real people such as Oscar Wilde appeared under their own names. I like reading about the Victorian era.
The first book I read by this author, The Nature of Monsters, left a very favorable impression on me although it was a dark book. The second I read by her, The Great Stink, was much less interesting to me, and there were parts of it I didn't care for at all. This one lies somewhere between those two. I enjoyed it for a summer read but I didn't love it.
Jubilee, the year that Buffalo Bill Cody seized the imagination of
London with his Wild West Show complete with real Indians, and a time
of demonstrations and sit-ins over the terrible poverty that the wealth of
Britain's empire wasn't solving. Modern popular journalism is also
developing just then. All of these play a key role in this novel.
A radical and aristocratic but impoverished Scots MP is married to
Maribel, a beautiful woman who claims to be from South America,
half-French and half-Spanish, educated in a French convent. She's an
imposter, and one wonders how she manages to pull it all off, even if
she is a would-be actress. Being exposed would apparently destroy her
husband's political career as well as their position in society.
Nonetheless Maribel flirts with disaster while her hotheaded husband plays
with political disaster. He's amazingly good to Maribel for a
Victorian husband, except for a penchant for brothels, encouraging her
to develop her talents as a photographer and writer, and respecting
her superior financial acumen.
I enjoyed learning about Victorian London from this perspective, and
the book was in general vividly and well-written. There were a few
anachronistic-feeling expressions and situations, and in general the
book drifted on a bit repetitively. A good editing down to 350 pages
would have improved it, as it'a a long read (it took me well over a
week). More development of some of the secondary but key characters
would have helped, too. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys Victorian
London, especially the less-respectable and stodgy side of it.
The novel centers on a couple firmly in the heart of elite society. Maribel Campbell Lowe is the wife of an upstart Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) who is engrossed in fighting the establishment of which he is a part. He has taken on the cause of the miners of his district, of his tenant farmers in Scotland, and of the poor who crowd the London streets.
Meanwhile Maribel is a bohemian, an artist seeking her outlet, not interested in performing the typical wifely duties of commanding servants and raising children. She wants more from her life, more time with her husband.
Into this setting comes not only the Wild West Show, political demonstrations, and a need to shore up expenses at the financially draining Scotland estate, but also a tabloid newspaper editor, who threatens to take down the entire artfully crafted Campbell Lowe clan. There are secrets to be kept, and Maribel's past threatens to put her family's reputation in danger. Can the lies be kept hidden, or will they be exposed in a scandal that rocks the very foundations of their lives?
Clark's novel not only tells a captivating tale, but illuminates brilliantly the challenges and excitement of the Victorian Age. It also parallels contemporary times quite well. From financial challenges to media obsession, the Victorians perfectly mimic the modern era in which we live today.
This is a novel of layers, and readers can go as deeply as they like or remain entertained by the main surface story of the Campbell Lowes. Either way, they will be richly rewarded for the effort. This novel is one of the best historical novels of the year. Don't miss it!
"Beautiful Lies" does not stand shoulder-to-shoulder with her previous novels. I just couldn't relate to the characters--they seemed flat and stilted. I wasn't drawn into the intrigue and twists that her story tried to present.
It's a decent novel, and competently written, and I stuck with it because I knew Clark wouldn't produce a book that wasn't worthwhile. That's true, but it just (for me) wasn't as much of a page-turner as her other books. The first third of the book was difficult to settle into, although after that the pace picked up a little.
If you like Clare Clark, and if you like historical fiction, add this to your list of books to explore. But frankly, if this had been my first introduction to her novels, I don't know if I would have read the others.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved reading this book, not sure why exactly and it doesn't have a full circle happy ending. It's over a course of time and then it's over. Still loved it.Published 2 months ago by Christine
I LIKED the characters in the book. Some were very likable and others despicable but the story shows that so much of the ideas and lives of people are the same today as over 100... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Kitty Bug
Although Beautiful Lies was an elegant historical novel that captured multiple locations in Europe during 1887, I am sorry I did not enjoy this promenade of secrets and deceptions. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Elspeth G. Perkin
As a lover of 19th century English and European novels with their mixture of political themes intermingling with family sagas and great romances, this novel was heaven - albeit... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Isabelle
The book begins with such an extravagantly luscious piece of writing that I thought I couldn’t bear a whole book written in that style - but, though the rest of the book has many... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Ralph Blumenau
Clare Clark's "Beautiful Lies" takes in Royal jubilees, London riots, newspaper editors overstepping the bounds on personal vendettas and political sex scandals - all set in the... Read morePublished on August 5, 2013 by Ripple
Beautiful Lies tells the meandering story of Maribel Campbell Lowe and her husband Edward. The time period is the late 1880s. Read morePublished on July 29, 2013 by Ruby
where have all the good editors gone? this book sure needs one. it has a great setting, victorian england, and an interesting premise, a radical politician married to an imposter... Read morePublished on April 30, 2013 by carol irvin