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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.
Clark did an impeccable job with this novel. Her writing style flowed effortlessly and I was transported back in time alongside Maribel from the very first page. The descriptions of the time and the various settings of the novel were done in such a way that I could simply close my eyes and I could vividly imagine the scene unfolding around me.
The characters in the book were very realistic and believable. They all had unique personalities and flaws that made them easy to identify with - I felt as if I knew them all personally, like I was taking part in the narrative myself. The author wrote the character of Maribel with such earnestness that even her mistakes and character flaws make the reader love her and sympathize with her. We feel her every emotion with intensity and vigor. All the characters are written with this amount of depth, so the heroine doesn't feel over-developed and the other characters are just as rounded, which I feel make the story all the more enchanting.
The novel swept me away from the first page and didn't release it's thrall until the last word. There aren't many times when a piece of literature makes a lasting impression on a reader, but this is one that I will be thinking and speaking about for a long time to come. Clark did a wonderful job bringing not only the past to life, but making a historical woman and her secrets come alive before our very eyes. It is an enthralling look into history and a beautifully written piece of literary fiction. I highly recommend this novel to lovers of literary and historical fiction.
Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
True Lies was inspired by real people and events in 1880s England, though fictionalized through the magic of Clark's imagination. It centers around two main characters, Maribel Campbell Lowe, and her husband, Edward, a member of the aristocracy at a time when their fortunes are starting to decline. Edward, a member of Parliament, is a socialist and fierce advocate for the poor. Maribel purportedly was raised in Chile, the daughter of French and Spanish parents, but her persona is a fabrication; in reality, she is an Englishwoman with a past, and Edward was complicit in her reinvention of herself. Edward is struggling to hang onto the family estate in Scotland and leaves management of the finances to Maribel. His mother is oblivious to the state of the family finances and insists on living in the style to which she has become accustomed.
The story is set in a time of great change and upheaval. There is an enormous gap between rich and poor, and the labor movement is beginning to gain traction, prompting the old guard to cling even tighter to the status quo and to react with violence when they perceive that it is threatened. Photography is finally within reach of the average person, and indeed, Maribel takes it up as a hobby. Relationships between the US and Britain are also changing, and Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show is in London, playing to packed audiences.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book started off as a credible window into the life of an upper class couple in 1880's London. The husband is a proto-Socialist and the wife has a mysterious history. Read morePublished 15 days ago by D. Howard
Nicely written prose but I would have liked more development of the characters
I had a hard time finishing it
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 7 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 7 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 21 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 22 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 on May 4, 2014 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