Genuine Fraud by E Lockhart

Like Lockhart’s earlier work, Genuine Fraud explore themes of privilege, truth and lies.

In an author’s note, E Lockhart lists her sources of inspiration for Genuine Fraud.  They include Victorian orphan stories, con artist tales and narratives of class mobility. She talks about stories told backwards and tales of female ambition. Much of this filters through into Genuine Fraud, the story of Jule West-Williams, a young con woman who exploits friendships for personal gain.

Jule is rather like the orphans in Dickens who engage in crime out of necessity. She sees herself as an action hero, physically and mentally strong yet she’s also vulnerable, living on her wits and in constant danger of being uncovered as a fraud.

Like Lockhart’s earlier novel, We Were Liars, Genuine Fraud explores themes of privilege, truth and lies. It’s a story of good and evil, privilege and want, elite and envy. It’s dark and twisty — a tale of self-invention and self-deception. It’s a fast and engaging read.

Jule spends a lot of time worrying about her origin story. She struggles between what she tells herself and what she tells others. Is she disturbed or is she simply dangerous? That’s the question you’ll ask yourself if you decide to read Genuine Fraud.

Disclosure: The publisher provided a review copy via Netgalley.

Flawed by Cecilia Ahern

Not being a fan of chick lit, I hadn’t read Cecilia Ahern until her publisher sent me a review copy of Flawed.

It arrived just days after I had watched Love, Rosie — the movie based on Ahern’s Where Rainbows End.  I’d also heard about Ahern on an Irish radio programme that suggested her books were worth reading. So, I was sufficiently interested to give Flawed a go. Then, I discovered that my mother and my niece (85 and 25) are Ahern fans!

Young Adult

Flawed is a Young Adult novel. It’s about a teenager growing up in a judgmental society where people are expected to be perfect. Breaking the rules incurs punishments like branding and being shunned by society.

Celestine North, the teenager and heroine of this novel, is perfect until she breaks the rules and takes a stand against the judgemental wing of society.

The idea behind Flawed is interesting in light of the various public interest investigations that have taken place in Ireland. However, the characters lack depth — particularly in the earlier part of the novel — making it a somewhat frustrating read. Later, the pace picks up and there are hints of a love triangle that may add interest to the story.

Flawed comes to a somewhat  abrupt end with the story to be continued in a sequel called Perfect, due to be published in 2017.

Flawed by Cecilia Ahern is published by Harper Collins. [Disclosure: An advance review copy was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review].

We Were Liars — a young adult title with wide appeal

Usually young adult fiction wouldn’t cross my radar. However, I stumbled upon E Lockhart’s haunting mystery We Were Liars in Time magazine’s Best Books of 2014. So, because I love books set off the coast of Massachusetts, I decided to give it a go.

We Were Liars is a coming of age story. It’s about a group of wealthy children who holiday each year on their grandfather’s private island. They enjoy idyllic long summer days in beautiful houses close to the water.

Troubled heroine

The story is narrated by a troubled teenage heroine. Cadence Sinclair’s memory was damaged during a trauma on a previous summer holiday. It’s  an incident that no one is willing to talk about.

Like all families, however, the Sinclairs have their secrets and jealousies. While they hide them behind an apparently perfect facade, the reader senses tension. The children’s mothers are manipulated by their powerful and wealthy father. Lockhart underlines the age-old universality of these tensions in a series of references to similar themes in folklore.

Place and atmosphere — mystery and myth — lies and truth — are more important than character in this short novel which runs to just 240 pages. The Kindle edition of We Were Liars was a steal at $1.68 when I purchased it a couple of days ago. I loved E Lockhart’s writing and while the story may fade over time, hers is a name that will remain on my radar from now on.