Last month Bloomsbury sent me a set of six books by the lovely author Raffaella Barker. HERE is a list of all the books I received.
The first book I picked up from the set was Come And Tell Me Some Lies. No specific reason, it's just that I was in the mood for some light reading and this looked perfect. Even the title and the cover was very summery and light.
If you would like to read the cover of the book you can read it HERE
For me, a book is as much the matter it has inside as the cover, and I have many times in the past drifted towards a book based on the cover alone. This book, and in fact all the books in this set, have something very amazing going on in the covers. For one, it has a very old world charm to it. If you see the cover, it's kind of a sepia and a 60s look and that for me is a huge pull.
Moving on to the story, it's very difficult for me to put this into just one little article, or a few words. Honestly, after reading this book, I felt as if I had just come out of a homestay with the protagonist and her family, but the difference being that all her years, from childhood to growing up and later, were rolled in in a quick vacation.
The book is essentially about the protagonist, a girl who lives in a ramshackle home, filled to bursting limits with an ever-expanding brood of siblings and pets, not to mention the eccentric parents she has. The love and the craziness shared throughout the childhood and spilling into the years of growing up mask the underlying poverty and want that the family is subject to.
The narrative moves through two different voices - one is that of the protagonist who is the eldest daughter, and the other is a third person narrative that takes us through the times before the protagonist was introduced in the story line, a time when the protagonist's parents met for the first time. There is a beautiful synchronization going on here, and you get a detailed visual of how and why the characters in the plot do what they do today. This overlapping of voices continues till the time when the protagonist' father dies.
While all looks normal at the home front during her growing up years, the protagonist soon discovers the dirt behind her family's otherwise happy and content life - the dirt and squalor of poverty. This also happens as a result of her exposure to a reputed school, where she comes into contact with girls from affluential backgrounds and 'normal' parents. The contrast looks so sharp that many times during the storyline the protagonist questions the boundaries that seem to come up now and then.
Without giving away anything more, this is a story you have to experience, as it is a treat to the senses, in the literal sense of the term. As I was going through the pages, I found myself in this beautiful countryside house, complete with brick layouts, an old car, the old stereo playing somewhere and smells of exotic foods being cooked in the kitchen. It was an experience I am looking forward to see in all of her other books as well.
The book is a very quick read and it will hardly take you a day or two to finish. I strongly suggest you pick it up over a lazy weekend and enjoy where it takes you.
Of course, I give it 5 of my hearts.....
- Debolina Raja Gupta