Friday, January 10, 2020

Review: Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

Title: Big Lies in a Small Town
Author: Diane Chamberlain
Published: January 2020, St. Martin's Press
Format: ARC Paperback, 400 pages
Source: Publisher

From bestselling author Diane Chamberlain comes an irresistible new novel. 
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?

My thoughts: Diane Chamberlain has absolutely become an author I just have to read...her last few books have been amazing and this latest one is no exception! I haven't read all her books, but I definitely plan to as soon as I can and know that I have some good reading ahead of me.

As soon as I started reading this book, I was captivated and that feeling never let up. Told in a dual storyline, I was equally invested in both time lines, which is not always the case. Sometimes with the dual narrative, I find I am more drawn to one time line over the other, but here, I loved both. I found both women, Morgan in the present day and Anna in the past, to be sassy and strong characters, and I really felt this compelling need to see them succeed. I was rooting for them all the way and I love when I feel that bond with characters.
I loved the way this story unfolded, moving back and forth in time, slowly unraveling both the mystery and history of this mural that was painted by Anna but surrounded by mystique. What happened to her? And I loved that the short chapters really keep you from missing one character too much - you go back and forth between them so quickly that you feel like you are constantly with them both.

This book is nothing short of amazing. I found myself completely intrigued by the restoration process of the mural, not knowing anything about that prior to reading this book. And I loved that this story is actually based in part in fact - be sure to read the author's note at the end. This is why I love reading historical fiction...I always learn something new. And when you add just that hint of mystery, it just amps up the intrigue. 

This is one of those books where you want to keep reading to find out how it will end, but at the same time, you want to savor each page, because you know once you hit that last page, it will be over and that will be the end. I wanted to find out how it all wrapped up, but I also didn't want it to end. I cannot wait to read more from this talented author while I wait for her next release...she is absolutely one of my favorite authors and a must-read for sure!



  1. Kristin, I'm glad that you enjoyed this novel so much. At times, I've had to limit myself to one chapter per night, in order to savor favorite books!

  2. I have never read this author, but I have a feeling I would love her books!

  3. Loved this book. Couldn’t put it town. Gave it a 5/5 star ⭐️ review on Net Galley and Goodreads. Thought it was a poor cover. Could have used part of the mural with a hidden —- tucked in!


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