- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (April 19, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1419718959
- ISBN-13: 978-1419718953
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 89 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #232,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Lie Tree Hardcover – April 19, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—In a time when a young woman's exterior life can be stifling and dull, Faith Sunderly's interior life is cavernous. She has a sharp mind; a keen interest in the scientific research that has made her father, the formidable Reverend Sunderly, famous; and an irresistible impulse for sneaking, spying, and skulking around. Faith's curiosity about the world around her, which she must keep hidden, is a source of personal shame and the one thing about herself she longs for people, especially her father, to notice. When the Reverend is invited to take part in an archaeological dig on the insular island community of Vane, the whole family packs up and moves with him. It doesn't take long for Faith to suspect there are darker reasons the family left London in such a hurry, and just as she's starting to put things together, her father is found dead. Setting out to prove her father's death was a murder, Faith uncovers a web of secrets the Reverend has been keeping, all centered on one of his specimens—a small tree that thrives on lies and bears a fruit that tells the truth. Faith believes she can use the tree to find her father's killer and begins feeding it lies. As the tree grows, so do Faith's lies and her fevered obsession with finding out the truth. Hardinge, who can turn a phrase like no other, melds a haunting historical mystery with a sharp observation on the dangers of suppressing the thirst for knowledge, and leaves readers to wonder where science ends and fantasy begins. VERDICT Smart, feminist, and shadowy, Hardinge's talents are on full display here.—Beth McIntyre, Madison Public Library, WI
"In 19th-century Britain, the study of natural history was reserved for gentlemen. Unlucky enough to be born female, science-minded Faith, the heroine of this dark and captivating period novel, can't hope to follow in her naturalist father's footsteps. Yet when those footsteps lead to his suspicious death, Faith turns her "weakness" into an advantage. Underestimated by everyone, from her father's colleagues to the servants to her own mother, she embarks on an investigation that propels her into the scandal that ruined her father's reputation and entices her to adopt his morally questionable research methods.
"The Lie Tree" shares the rich, cerebral atmosphere and feminist bent of Andrea Barrett's history-of-science-inspired fiction for adults, weaving it all together with gossamer fairy-tale thread. The book's title refers to a plant — Faith's father's secret discovery — that withers in the light and feeds off of lies. Faith believes that reason and logic must hold the explanation to the Lie Tree's puzzling attributes, since, for her, "'magic' was not an answer; it was an excuse to avoid looking for one." Nonetheless, she can't deny that when she whispers untruths into its leaves, things happen: Both the plant and Faith's covert power start to grow.
Hardinge's gorgeous descriptive language is charged with menace and meaning. Lying in bed one night, Faith imagines "her lie spreading silently like dark green smoke, filling the air around the house like a haze, spilling from the mouths of those who whispered and wondered and feared … soaking like mist into waiting leaves, seeping like sap down gnarled slender stems, and forcing itself out into a small, white spearhead of a bud." "The Lie Tree" is a murder mystery that dazzles at every level, shimmering all the more brightly the deeper down into it you go."
"Mystery, magic, religion, and feminism swirl together in Hardinge's latest heady concoction... Hardinge creates a fierce, unlikable heroine navigating a rapidly changing world and does it all with consummate skill and pitch-perfect prose, drawing readers into Faith's world and onto her side and ultimately saying quite a lot about the world. Thematically rich, stylistically impressive, absolutely unforgettable."
"Hardinge, who can turn a phrase like no other, melds a haunting historical mystery with a sharp observation on the dangers of suppressing the thirst for knowledge, and leaves readers to wonder where science ends and fantasy begins... Smart, feminist, and shadowy, Hardinge’s talents are on full display here."
"Hardinge’s characteristically rich writing is on full display—alternately excoriating, haunting, and darkly funny—and the novel also features complex, many-sided characters and a clear-eyed examination of the deep sexism of the period, which trapped even the most intelligent women in roles as restrictive as their corsets."
"There is an effortless beauty to Hardinge’s writing, which ranges from frank to profound. Though layered, the plot refuses to sag, driven as it is by mystery, taut atmosphere, complex characters, and Faith’s insatiable curiosity... It is a book in which no details are wasted and each chapter brings a new surprise. Readers of historical fiction, mystery, and fantasy will all be captivated by this wonderfully crafted novel and the many secrets hidden within its pages."
“The elements of the mystery are masterfully keyed to the concerns of the Victorian time period, and its unfolding is handled with a dexterity that never loses sight of the gender problem; the book also directs its light onto matters of faith and doubt, and the issue of lies and truth in the pursuit of science. The excitement and danger, coupled with Faith’s intrepid though morally flawed pursuit of justice, call to mind Hardinge’s Fly by Night (BCCB 9/06); give this to readers unafraid to think disquieting thoughts as they race through a breathtaking, action-packed adventure.”
"Everything in this audacious novel is on the cusp or in limbo, setting up delicious tensions and thematic riches. The time is nineteenth-century England just after Darwin’s theory of evolution has thrown the scientific world into turmoil; the setting is the fictional island of Vane, between land and sea; the main character is a fourteen-year-old girl caught between society’s expectations and her fierce desire to be a scientist... Hardinge maintains masterful control of the whole complex construct: everything from the sentence level on up to the larger philosophical and political questions. A stunner."
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Her writing, as ever, is brilliant - it's full and rich and incredibly beautiful. I liked the main character, Faith. She's a girl in an oppressive society who finds ways to battle with her inner sense of right and wrong and doggedly solves the mystery. I found the whole book to be a page turner -- I had a hard time putting it down. The mystery was well done, and the somewhat gothic, creepy, Victorian setting was perfect for Hardinge's particular flavor of tale spinning. Post mortem photos! Phrenology! Patriarchy! Burgeoning Natural Science study by gentlemen scientists!
I did guess the 'whodunit' before the end because I remembered a key clue, but that didn't detract from the overall story. I found the characters complex and very interesting. The ending was satisfying, and the relationship between mother and daughter more promising than it had been at first. I do wish we had Howard, Faith's little brother, in the closing scene. He must be there, but he is notably absent from the description. I wonder if this was intentional, but I loved his character so much, I missed him at the end.
I really enjoyed it overall, and anxiously await whatever Hardinge delivers up next.
It was the 2016 Costa Book of the Year
The protagonist Faith, 14 and stuck in a ‘training corset’, grapples with heady topics: societal conventions and limitations on women, the discovery of the flaws in her father’s character, the clash of science and religion in Victorian England, and the mob mentality of people. Big ideas, fresh characters, and lovely writing made this one deliciously memorable.
I wasn't sure what to expect, but I thought the main character, Faith, ,was extremely interesting an relatable. I loved the issues of being a female and a child during the time period, and the complicated relationships between family. I thought Faith's complex feelings towards her mother and father were terribly realistic, and I really enjoyed seeing those evolve over the course of the novel. The mystery of the book was super interesting, especially with the mystical addition of the lie tree. So awful and amazing watching Faith spin lies in the name of vengeance, seeing those lies take on a life of their own, and watching Faith come to terms with the repercussions of what she'd set in motion.
Overall a well-written and gripping novel that kept me interested throughout. Definitely plan on looking into more of Hardinge's work.
Most recent customer reviews
After listening to the audio version a short time, the agenda was clear.Read more
Author: Frances Hardinge
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Star Rating: 5 out of 5...Read more