The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
As usual, it took me a little bit to transition from the last book into this one, but once I did, it proved itself worthy of the transition. Annie Barrows, while co-authoring The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society with her aunt, Mary Anne Shaffer, picked up an indelible voice that I love, and it is carried through true in The Truth According to Us. Her way of seeing things and conveying them casually and with a witty punch is refreshing and challenging as a writer. I love how she can show so much without telling a thing. She trusts her audience implicitly and never caters to the urge to clarify, just in case. Oh, if that were me!
The Truth According to Us sets up a beautiful cast of characters and parades them before you in ways that let you see right into their souls. She tells her tale effortlessly (from the other side of the page) and lets it flow through time on its own power. It is a pretty hefty title at nearly 500 pages, but it read quickly and easily, because Barrows invests you in her lineup fast.
Utilizing the wildly effective epistolary form that she and Shaffer rocked in Guernsey, Barrows again gets us directly into each and every head that we need to see into for a full story. This one is not so exclusively a collection of correspondences, but it does rely heavily on their perspective. I never thought that I would enjoy this particular mode of writing, but I have been proven gloriously wrong, to the point of considering how I might work a letter or twelve into my own novel. Shockingly intimate, those missives pack a punch that I’m not sure can be duplicated in any other way!
No spoilers here. The Truth According to Us is a lovely story of one West Virginia family making their way through the thirties and the storms of life that come with any sort of real family. Well-researched, spunk-laden, and chock-full of everything a good novel should have. I can’t say that I loved as much as Guernsey, but I did enjoy it a whole lot.
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