Tell Me Lies, by Jennifer Crusie

>> Monday, February 21, 2005

Tell Me Lies was my first Jennifer Crusie, and it started me collecting her entire backlist (or, at least, the ones not prohibitively expensive!). Other books have become my favourites by this author (Welcome To Temptation, Bet Me, Anyone But You... ), but Tell Me Lies has a special place in my shelves for getting me started with this wonderful author.

Maddie Martindale has been the nice girl of her small town of Frog Point where gossip is major entertainment. Comfortably, if not happily, married to bigshot Brent, who is running for mayor, and mother to a sweet girl, Maddie seems to have a perfect life. But after she finds crotchless panties in her husband's car, Maddie's pristine reputation unravels. An imminent divorce, her husband's murder, and the precipitate return of Maddie's sexy high school flame, C.L. Sturgis, lead to her quick fall. C.L., the rebel bad boy who never dropped his torch for Maddie, has straightened out handsomely and plays a seductively vital role. The town is agog with talk of Maddie, the adulteress and murderess.
The back of the book has a comment from a reviewer comparing Crusie to Susan Isaacs, and in this book, I really do see the similarities. It was a B+ for me.

I really enjoyed reading Maddie's metamorphosis from a woman determined to live the life her whole town seems to want her to live to a woman who decides to take control of her own life and do what she wants with it. At first, Maddie frustrated me with her insistence on keeping up appearances, not creating gossip, looking like the perfect wife. She was a doormat for everyone, from her cheating husband to her dominating mother, and the contrast between her pleasant, compliant facade and what actually goes on inside her head, her snarky thoughts and needs to rebel, was heartbreaking.

So I cheered when that facade started cracking and she realized that she'd go crazy if she kept on with that type of life. It wasn't an instantaneous process, and she really tortured C.L. with her back and forth, but the woman who emerged in the end was wonderful!

C.L. was an interesting character, a knight-in-shining-armour accountant, who had remained half in love with Maddie since high school, but this was Maddie's story, so he was a bit less prominent in the story. What there was of the romance was lovely, though :-)

I liked the plot, too, and most of the secondary characters. You couldn't pay me enough to live in Frog Point, but I did think it suited Maddie and C.L., so I didn't finish the book wanting to scream at the hero and heroine to get the hell out of that horrible place, as I've often done with other books set in gossipy small towns.


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