Title: The Comfort of Lies
Author: Randy Susan Meyers. She is the author of a previous novel, The Murderer’s Daughters.
Genre: Commercial Fiction, Chick Lit (but more on the serious side)
Readers: Prosecutor Rochelle, consultant Alila, project manager Andrea, and stay-at-home Mom Megan V.
Summary: Five years ago, Tia fell into obsessive love with a man she could never have. Married, and the father of two boys, Nathan was unavailable in every way. When she became pregnant, he disappeared, and she gave up her baby for adoption.
Five years ago, Caroline, a dedicated pathologist, reluctantly adopted a baby to please her husband. She prayed her misgivings would disappear; instead, she’s questioning whether she’s cut out for the role of wife and mother.
Five years ago, Juliette considered her life ideal: she had a solid marriage, two beautiful young sons, and a thriving business. Then she discovered Nathan’s affair. He promised he’d never stray again, and she trusted him.
Riveting and arresting, The Comfort of Lies explores the collateral damage of infidelity and the dark, private struggles many of us experience but rarely reveal.
I picked up this book looking forward to some light but still thought provoking reading, and I was not disappointed. While the women each seemed to represent a different stereotype: Tia, the naive younger woman hoping Nathan will leave his family for her; Juliette, Nathan’s wife who stays with him (but struggles emotionally) after the infidelity because she loves him and their life together; and Caroline, the adoptive mother of Tia and Nathan’s child, who never wanted to be a mother and is upsetting her husband at her lack of motherly instinct. While Meyers humanizes these women as a way of humanizing the stereotypes, she doesn’t delve deep enough into examining the stereotypes. This book would be an excellent starting point to a book club conversation about these women, their choices, and what could be motivating their behavior.
Not surprisingly, Caroline is my favorite character because she remains true to herself and doesn’t lose herself in the stressful family situations, unlike Juliette and Tia who are both easily unhinged by Nathan’s actions and their emotions towards him, readily forgoing their own needs in favor of keeping him. While I can easily choose my favorite character, the women are all engaging enough to draw you in to their chapters and their narratives, and to sympathize (maybe even empathize) with at least elements of their struggles. Even the men, Nathan and Caroline’s husband Peter, are excellent, dynamic characters. The relatability of the characters and the story-line both lend to a quick, engaging read that is refreshingly deeper than the average chick lit.
Read also: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
Randy Susan Meyers has created a story around three complex and interesting women, whose lives occupy different worlds until they discover they all share a connection to a five year old girl. A great premise for complications, deceptions, and betrayals. And there were many of these in the backstory- but very few as the story progressed.
So, although the characters were engaging, the story ultimately was not that compelling. By the end of the book, I was frustrated that not one of these characters truly suffered or behaved outrageously. Each woman had the potential to be challenged to her core by the events in the story. But Meyers didn’t push any one of them far enough. It would have been more believable and more involving if at least one of them had had to claw their way back from the depths- or had gone over the edge and been lost- or had at least made a really bad choice in the end.
But none of that happened, and so the book turned out to be nothing more than an easy read. There were a few detours on the way to happiness, but no wrong turns or agonizing decisions, no moral ambiguities or interesting dilemmas, nothing to ponder by the end of the book. Just forgettably “Happily Ever After”.
Read Also: A better examination of how modern women struggle when faced with difficult circumstances can be found in any Anita Shreve or Ann Patchett novel. And for a fascinating examination of how a husband and wife deal with a lie about a child, I highly recommend The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman.
I found this book very intriguing. It tells the complicated tale of the ties between three women and one little girl who are put in a difficult situation. The chapters switch between narrators and it really helps to give a lot of insight into three different sides of the same story. Because of that, I was really invested in the characters and interested to see how it would all come together. It’s not a traditional story or style, but I liked it.
Randy Susan Meyers does an excellent job of examining the false sense of security and comfort we receive from the lies we not only tell others, but ultimately ourselves. While the three women in the book are initially connected by the infidelity of one man, in the end they are more subtly connected by the shared experience of wearing false veneers for the sake of others and themselves.
Meyers tells her story from the perspective of three different women in a seamless manner. She is able to change narration at each chapter break without giving a disjointed feeling.
I found The Comfort of Lies to be a compelling and thought provoking read; an excellent book club selection.