Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: January 14, 2019
Genre: Adult Fiction / Historical Fiction / Mystery
Goodreads Average: 4.51 *As of 11/11/2019*
North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.
North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.
What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?
I completely loved the setup of Big Lies in a Small Town, which switches back and forth between Morgan in 2018 and Anna Dale in 1940. I was really intrigued by both of the women’s stories, but especially Anna’s. 1940 in Edenton, NC was full of racism and sexism, but also a lot of culture and heritage. I am very impressed with the way Chamberlain made that period of history come alive in this novel, and I felt like I was right there.
Both of the women’s stories were heartbreaking, but also there were so many times that I laughed out loud at something that happened. The humor, compassion, sadness, and tragedy were also amplified by the short chapters which really packed a punch. Big Lies in a Small Town is beautifully written with so much emotion and detail, that it makes me wonder what took me so long to read one of Chamberlain’s books. The infusion of historical fiction into contemporary was perfectly done, and I adored how both stories wrapped up at the end.
Song/s the book brought to mind: Ready When It Comes by Jamie O’Neal
Final Thought: I could sing praises for Big Lies in a Small Town all day, that is how much I loved it! With this one book, Chamberlain has already become an auto-buy author for me and I can’t wait to collect and read all her novels. If you love books that mix contemporary with historical and combine the lives of the characters to make something perfect, you MUST read this book. The addition of art and art restoration was also enlightening, and I would like to think you like me will learn something as well.
MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
Thank you to the publisher for my advanced review copy via NetGalley. All opinions and thoughts are my own.