If I were to describe this 604-page novel in the shortest possible fashion it would be: a story that encompasses three families of different backgrounds, covering three generations, of various religions and values. A story that propels its three principal characters from rags to riches, riches to rags, infidelity, dishonesty, and, of course, secrets, none of which can be labelled as the title of this work implies!
However, as any of my followers/readers know, I’m not a man of few words relating to a book I have completed reading, and this book certainly deserves more than a few inconsequential lines.
So, to get on with it . . .. The three principal characters are: Rebecca Harburg, Annick Betancourt, and Tash Bryce-Brudenell.
Including the prologue (taken from a part of the epilogue) and epilogue, the book is divided into ten parts, commencing in 1993 when the girls are teenagers still at school. In the second part, the story jumps back in time to 1935 to give the reader a historical reference of where the families originated, as well as their backgrounds.
From part three onwards, the author takes the reader through a chronological journey from 1997 to 2013.
Rebecca comes from an exceedingly wealthy Jewish family, who having escaped Nazi Germany at the commencement of hostilities, have set up home in England to continue the growth of their banking empire.
She is a beautiful young woman who has no need, and is not expected, to find a career, only to secure a husband to continue the family’s traditions, values, and expectations.
Annick, in much the same way as Rebecca, comes from a wealthy, but politically powerful family. Her grandfather was president of a third world African nation until his death, and was subsequently replaced by her own father.
Unlike Rebecca however, at her father’s insistence, Annick is obliged to pursue a course of study within the legal profession; and, although she does so dutifully, continues with her carefree life style of indulgence where money is plentiful and always to hand.
Tash, despite her grand surname, has none of the privileges or wealth of her two best friends. In her case, both her name and education are paid for by the man who had seduced her mother before she was born. She was a penniless Russian teenage athlete who had escaped Moscow during an inter-school tournament, ending up in England using only her beauty and wit to do so.
Tash, by contrast to her mother, is no beauty. At 6ft in height, with a bad complexion, crooked teeth, and speaking without thought of hurtful comments, doesn’t care what people think of her.
Of all three however, it is Tash, who in adulthood, metamorphoses into a successful, rich and powerful business woman, using only her intelligence and self-confidence to get what she wants.
Rebecca is the first of the three to find a husband. With the approval of her family, she and Julian Lovell, as successful investment dealer/stock broker, are wed.
On the surface, it seems a match made in heaven, but Julian leads a double life/romance with a business associate. Despite having two wonderful children, Rebecca finds her marriage lacking due to his many overseas absences, to the point, that she too indulges in extra-marital relationships; one of which leads to a pregnancy, which she passes off as being Julian’s.
Annick, by contrast, finds herself penniless and in mortal danger, when her parents are assassinated in a military coup and the family’s assets and monies are frozen by the new government. In desperation, Annick finds refuge in the slum quarters of Paris working as a receptionist of a hotel, whose clientele rents rooms by the hour.
Her life only turns around years later when rescued by Tash, who now a millionaire in her own right, wastes no time in seeing her friend restored. She leaves Paris with Tash without a word to anyone, not even her lover, Yves. With Tash’s help she manages to secure a position with a prestigious firm of solicitors.
Yves, is a man of few words and a murky past; but despite his original intentions for Annick, he finds himself drawn to, and protective of her. He tracks her down to London, where they rekindle their relationship, and eventually get married.
Tash too, miraculously, finds love with one of Rebecca’s many cousins, Adam. It is not long before they are married.
There is far too much to cram into this review, so I shan’t even try. I will only say, that matters change for all of them quite quickly and not for the better, even though the author tries to suggest there is a happy ending of sorts. In truth, and in my opinion, the title “Big Black Lies” may have suited the story better.
It took me a while to read the story as I struggled with it. Unlike some books of the same size that are so gripping I can’t put down and finish in a few days, this one has taken about three weeks, and only so because I had to force myself to read on.
I have always liked a story that ties up all loose ends, and has a satisfactory and realistic ending. Unfortunately, “Little White Lies” doesn’t fall into that category. In all honesty, I was disappointed with the overall story; and although, it had some potential for betterment, in my opinion, this was not achieved. For this reason, I can only grant this story a 2-star rating.
RLB – Tomewriter