Author: Annie Barrows
Published: June 18th 2015 by Transworld Publishers
Amazon | Amazon UK
Blurb: Evoking the same small town charm with the same great eye for character, the co-author of Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society finds her own voice in this debut novel about a young debutante working for the Federal Writer's Project whose arrival in Macedonia, West Virginia changes the course of history for a prominent family who has been sitting on a secret for decades. The Romeyn family is a fixture in the town, their identity tied to its knotty history. Layla enters their lives and lights a match to the family veneer and a truth comes to light that will change each of their lives forever.
Review: The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society is one of my favourite books ever so when I heard that one of its co-author was writing a book, I was over the moon. As you can imagine, my expectations when I picked The Truth According To Us were high to say the least. Now that I've finished it, I can tell you it is a great book with a charming story but maybe The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society has cast a shadow too big on it for me. There's something missing on it to make it as amazing.
But now, let's forget about the comparisons and focus solely in The Truth According to Us. Set in the town of Macedonia, in West Virginia, in 1938, we read about town life, especially about the Romeyn family, who used to be one the most important families but has now lost its privileged position. At the beginning, we don't know why but as the story unfolds, we discover all the secrets and lies around the family. It does take a while to uncover though and I felt like the first part of the story was really slow-paced. But I have to admit that on the second part I was totally glued to the pages of the book wanting to know how had happened and I ended up caring deeply for this family.
The story is told from three different points of view; first we have Jottie Romeyn's. Owner of the Romeyn's house, she shares it with his brother and his two daughters but given that his presence in the house is sporadic, she has taken the girls as hers. She is unable to leave the past behind, she tries her best to make the world easier for her beloved nieces. Then, there's Willa Romeyn, the oldest of the nieces. A real bookworm, this girl wants to know and understand it all. Adults think she's too small for most of their matters but she finds her ways to find out what is really going on. And finally, Layla, the newcomer. She arrives at Macedonia to write a book about its history. She is quite uninterested at the beginning but soon finds herself absorbed with Macedonia's history, but especially its people.
The three main characters are well developed. They are strong women who are ready to fight for what they want and what they care. I especially liked young Willa. With her naive view of the reality, she ends up knowing too much for her own good. But her parts were definitely the ones I enjoyed reading the most. However, the male characters, especially the Romeyn brothers are a bit lacking as characters. They didn't picked my curiosity that much and felt that they could have been much more.
But the star of the story is Macedonia. With Annie Barrow's description of the small town and its suffocating heat, I felt like I was right there with them all. I also found the passages about its history added a nice and interesting touch to the story.
All in all, The Truth According to Us is a charming story about a town, its people and its customs. With a very descriptive style but a bit too slow-paced, it captures another era perfectly. One I'm sure I'll be revisiting as I feel this is one of those book you need to re-read to really appreciate its beauty.