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Tell a Thousand Lies

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  813 Ratings  ·  153 Reviews
In a land where skin colour can determine one's destiny, fraternal twins PULLAMMA and LATA are about to embark on a journey that will tear their lives apart. Dark skinned Pullamma dreams of being a wife. With three girls in her family, the sixteen year old is aware there isn't enough dowry to secure suitable husbands for them all. But a girl can hope. She's well versed in ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 8th 2012 by Createspace (first published March 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,167)
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Aug 17, 2015 Chris rated it really liked it

The author gave me a copy in exchange for a review.

People like to think that both racism and sexism are dead, but many of us know that this isn't true. While it might be correct to say that Mrs Bennett in modern England might not be as husband hungry for her daughters, she wouldn't turn up her nose at what's on offer either. In some places, the -isms are more underground, more subtle (Friends takes place in all white NYC, the black man always dies first, and the female scientist is dressed in he
Note: There might be some spoilers in the review below.

Bwahahahaha! Rasana Atryea has watched too many bad Telugu films of the melodramatic type. Let alone a thousand, I won't tell even one lie. This book is utter crap - it is one long mega TV show with every single silly idea taken from them.

Twins: one evil, one good -

Deux ex-machina plots -

Moustache twirling villainous politician -

Forever victimised Mary Sue heroine -

Arvind Kejriwal - (Yes, he goes under the name of Chandrashekhar!)

One di
May 02, 2013 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Where I got the book: copy supplied by author.

Whoops! This was supposed to be my April indie review but yeah, I got a bit behind. This was one of those occasions where an author cold-pitches me and I'm immediately intrigued by the setup, but I had NO IDEA of the directions this novel was going to go in. It starts quietly: because Pullamma's dark-skinned and tall and therefore not attractive by the standards of her corner of rural India, she is allowed to be present at her sister's bride-viewing
Sandra "Jeanz"
Jul 15, 2012 Sandra "Jeanz" rated it really liked it
I liked the cover though it was quite a way into the book before I recognised the cover as a scene from the book.the scene depicts Pullama as a rather unwilling Goddess, with the gifts people have brought to her as gifts for her blessing. Also all the hands stretching out towards Pullamma demanding her attention.
I found the beginning of the book rather slow to read, then about 18% the story pace started to pick up and become faster so more enjoyable. I loved all the cultural references
Carol Kean
Oct 11, 2012 Carol Kean rated it really liked it
What a rare treat - an e-book that is beautifully written, polished and full of substance! The narrative voice hooked me from page one. So calmly, with no question that this is just the way life is, teenage Pullamma reports the terrible things her own relatives say to her. Not a hint of whining or self pity - just a wry, honest, clever depiction of her world. And what a world! I had no idea that small towns in India as recently as the 1980s remained so Old World in their thinking. A corrupt poli ...more
Devina Dutta
Apr 06, 2012 Devina Dutta rated it really liked it
After reading this book, i realised how less i knew about the rural parts of my own country.Beautifully narrated and a well developed plot, this novel cannot be merely dismissed as a story but is actually an account of a dark-skinned girl with a fair heart.Set in 1986, in the heart of a tiny village in Andhra Pradesh,this novel introduces us to some characters which am likely not to forget in a long time. Dark skinned Poullama and fair Lata are fratenal twins with contrasting personalities. Whil ...more
Tell a Thousand Lies by Rasana Atraya is set in a land of tradition, superstition and poverty where the drinking water’s turned on at three in the morning and guests have to be cajoled with false and fawning humility. A girl is praised for having “no mind of her own. Just does what she’s told.” And the sister who wants to become a doctor is steered by her loving family towards marriage and motherhood.

This is the India of Pullamma, Cinderella with skin too dark and an ugly name. Her own aspiratio
May 23, 2013 Adite rated it liked it
Rasana Atreya’s debut novel, Tell a Thousand Lies, is a hard hitting tale that focuses on the curse of being born a woman in India. Pullamma, the protagonist, is doubly cursed as she neither has the much sought after fair skin nor the handsome dowry that could have helped in procuring a good match for her. After all, as the saying goes, to arrange a good marriage for a girl, you have to tell a thousand lies. Pullamma grows up resigned to living a life of spinsterhood and being a support to her g ...more
eNovel Reviews
Jun 18, 2012 eNovel Reviews rated it it was amazing
We are transported back to the year 1986, when "Top Gun" was the highest grossing movie and "Pretty in Pink" defined the decade for Generation X. Yet we are not in the US, or even the Western world. The shimmering blue-green Bay of Bengal laps the shores of the southeastern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. We travel inland to the small village of Mallepalli, where the Hindu religion is part and parcel of people's lives, and ancient tradition comes into to stark contrast with the changing social m ...more
Mar 26, 2012 Jane rated it it was amazing
Since I live in India several months out of every year, I am always looking for books which will bring me "back home". I picked up this book with no expectations, other than hopefully getting a shot in the arm of Indian energy. I was not prepared for the wonderful story or for the genuineness of the feeling of rural India. Since I have a couple of Indian women friends living under the same type of village mentality and culture, I know for a fact that much of what is written here is sadly very tr ...more
Aug 12, 2014 Supraja rated it really liked it
Shelves: indian-authors
I started this book because it seemed like a fun read when I read the book jacket. This is not a fun read. Yes, it's easy to get through, the writing is not complicated, but the topics discussed hit me pretty hard. Growing up outside of India, I had heard of some of the circumstances described in this book, but never experienced them or even thought they were real. The portrayal of women in this book was both shocking and awe-inspiring. Although it took me some time to get used to the fact that ...more
This book, in my opinion, is basically Indian chick-lit. It isn't the more serious Indian fiction that I prefer. Regardless, it isn't the author's fault that I chose the wrong kind of book to read for myself. And it was entertaining and the writing was good, despite the constant eye-rolling drama and girly tears. For that reason I am rating it 3 stars.
Jun 10, 2012 Maria rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
I was a little hesitant with starting to read this book...I was a little unsure how I'd like it. It was a little outside of my comfort zone with the books I like to read. Once I got started, it was on!

Let me say that while reading this book, I could really picture myself in rural India. THe author did a great job of using imagery without being blantanly descriptive. I could actually picture the house with the courtyard, the heat of the day (I imagine how hot it gets in Texas and then multipled t
Aug 24, 2014 Harsha rated it really liked it
Firstly, thanks to the author for sending me the free ebook. I might not have read it otherwise, and I am really glad I didn't miss this one out.

It is the story of a 16 year old Pullamma, an orphan who is raised in a village in Andhra by her maternal grandmother. Growing up in a society that thinks of girls as nothing other than 'marriage material', and with two fair-skinned sisters, the dark-skinned Pullamma's prospects for marital bliss seem to be extremely dim. Not helping the matters is the
Laura McHale Holland
Jul 01, 2012 Laura McHale Holland rated it it was amazing
Tell A Thousand Lies is an ambitious, imaginative, engaging, unpredictable work. Author, Rasana Atreya roots the story in the specifics of rural India and, in particular, the trials and triumphs of protagonist Pullamma, who, along with two sisters, was raised in poverty by her grandmother. The sisters dreamed of a different life than their circumstances dictated, and the action one of them took to achieve that end set powerful forces in motion that ripped Pullamma’s life apart. The setting was i ...more
Jess Chambers
Apr 04, 2012 Jess Chambers rated it it was amazing
What an unexpected treat this novel turned out to be. From the first page, I was transported to India in the 1980s, a world where skin colour is everything and girls are brought up to be suitable wives. The dry, witty narrative gave me an instant connection with the heroine Pullamma, feisty and a little wild, but ultimately longing to be loved for herself. She will break your heart, have you laughing out loud, and take you on an emotional journey you will never forget. With her vivid characters, ...more
Vinay Leo R.
Mar 23, 2016 Vinay Leo R. rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, 2-star, 2016
Reviewed on A Bookworm’s Musing:

Positive aspects:
+ Story idea; to focus on such a plot, and character as Pullamma
+ Characters like the headmaster, who give hope for the future
+ First twist; it felt very believable

Negative aspects:
- Twist upon twist; works for a bit, but becomes heavy and melodramatic quickly
- Character of Kondal Rao; felt very clichéd even though believable
- Lata’s story; initially felt interesting, but not given prominence
- Since narration from Pullamma
The Book
Apr 30, 2014 The Book rated it it was ok
Shelves: asia, india
I thought the idea for the story was just great; unfortunately the writing and character development was pretty poor. The language used and sentence structures read like something grossly simplified for teenagers, and the book as a whole was a little like a soap opera - slightly unbelievable developments just kept happening which would conveniently roll the story along, and at the end all the loose ends were neatly tied up to the heroine's liking. Not to mention the one-dimensional characters yo ...more
Yejide Kilanko
Aug 13, 2012 Yejide Kilanko rated it really liked it
In this debut novel, Atreya did a fantastic job of immersing the reader in the world of her characters. The rural villages of India and their inhabitants came alive in a way that I was able to flip through the pages with bated breath. I found myself aching and cheering for Pullamma, the main character. It was a joy to watch her grow from a place of self-loathing to self-acceptance. There were parts in the middle of the book where I grew impatient with the events and choices made by the character ...more
Kim Power
Jan 22, 2015 Kim Power rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Revelation

Although this novel occasionally verges on the melodramatic - how much drama can one pack into 16 years ? - but this book provided extraordinary insights into Indian culture, it's social stereotypes and political corruption. It had especial interest for me because the charity I run has funded educational projects for Dalit girls, who are typically more dark skinned. It is one thing to understand the way culture, superstition, politics and religion conspire to prevent girls' education
Kavipriya Moorthy
Nov 25, 2015 Kavipriya Moorthy rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, love
First Impression – I should say, I loved the cover. In fact, all her novel covers are pick-worthy. I love the titles as well.

Overall Impression – Worth reading. Though the cover image and title mislead me as a reader that the novel might travel along the lines of an ugly looking girl turning all the more beautiful for her husband to fall head over heels, Rasana does the magic. She changed every single detail that might run in the reader’s mind. It was as if Rasana held a microscope watching what
Nov 18, 2012 Shruthi rated it really liked it
Nominated for the "Tibor Jones South Asia prize," this novel tells us about Pullamma, a dark-skinned girl whose only dream is to get married and have a municipal water connection. But fate has other things in store for her, as she becomes a pawn in a crooked politician's power games.

Filled with wit, and astute observations about life, this novel is quite unputdownable. The characters are very well-etched, and I can imagine how difficult it must be to maintain the integrity of a character's ident
K.W. McCabe
Jul 24, 2012 K.W. McCabe rated it really liked it

Tell a Thousand Lies by Rasana Atreya 4 of 5 stars

Pullama wants nothing more in life than to be a wife and mother. But how will she find a husband who will take her with no dowry? Her ugliness and dark skin are a burden her family can't hide.

Her two sisters, Malli and Lata, are beautiful--their marriages are assured. But in the midst of Malli's wedding preparations, something horrible happens and Pullama's life takes a downward spiral.

Will Pullama ever find the fulfillment of her dreams? Or will
Read In Colour
Jun 11, 2012 Read In Colour rated it it was amazing
In 1986 India, four of the most important determinants of a woman's future were the tone of her skin, her caste, her home village and her family's wealth. Based on these things, Pullamma, at the age of 16, has resigned herself to living with her grandmother forever. As one of three orphaned sisters, Pullamma is the darkest and most unattractive.

With her oldest granddaughter married off, Ammamma begins to worry about the fate of Pullamma. While it should be easy enough to marry off Lata, Pullamm

This is certainly not my usual genre. I lean towards total escapism – humor, sci-fi, horror, and whodunits. I skipped the book summary and read the most helpful review on Amazon with the subject line “Great Heartwarming Humorous Read!” After reading the sample about a young, dark skinned girl in India, who, although her life was not ideal, managed to find happiness with her family and friends and even managed to find humor in the absurd reactions of her fellow villagers when a bizarre turn of ev
Helen Mallon
Sep 07, 2012 Helen Mallon rated it really liked it
This review appeared on my blog on Sept. 7, 2012


This week I'm happy to review Rasana Atyeya's hard-to-tear-the-eyes-from first novel, which was shortlisted for the Tibor Jones South Asia Prize in 2012. Tell a Thousand Lies traces the dizzying fallout when traditional Indian marriage plans run afoul of a rebellious young bride and a malignant politician.

16-year old Pullama may be considered ineligible for marriage because of her tall frame and dark skin, b
Grace Troxel
Jun 05, 2012 Grace Troxel rated it really liked it
For my full review, see here:

"Tell A Thousand Lies" is a compelling and well-written story about two sisters in India whose lives are turned upside down when a conniving politician preys on the superstitions of local villagers. Pullama dreams of a good marriage, but she's dark-skinned and therefore considered a less attractive bridal candidate. Her twin sister Lata is drop-dead gorgeous, but Lata dreams of continuing her education and becoming a doctor. Wh
Cathy Dekoop
Aug 05, 2012 Cathy Dekoop rated it it was amazing
"A good novel gets under our skin, provokes us, and haunts us long after the first reading, because we never fully understand the characters....good characters must retain a certain mystery and unfathomable depth, even for the author." So says Alan Lightman in his essay (the title essay of his 2005 book) "A Sense of the Mysterious." This is exactly what Rasana did in "Tell a Thousand Lies." Her character Pullamma lives in a world far distant from the American metropolis, and struggles with emoti ...more
Aug 20, 2013 Vasan rated it really liked it
Tell A Thousand Lies starts off in a quaint village with our chirpy protagonist Pulla, a naive teenager having fun in her village, blissfully ignorant of the travails of adulthood and and the big bad world out there.

Soon, she's swept away by circumstances and a wily politician, the villain in this piece. She finds herself transformed into a Goddess! She realises, then escapes her predicament when the prince-like Srikar marries her and literally sweeps her off her feet. Just when we think that th
Laura Cushing
May 10, 2012 Laura Cushing rated it it was amazing
Pullamma, narrator of this rich cultural tale, is a young woman in rural India with dark skin. Her fair skinned twin is considered more marriageable than she is. Both are very intelligent, but their grandmother doesn't want them to study because how will they find families willing to give their sons in marriage to too educated girls?

Pullamma's world is turned upside down when she is suddenly declared the living incarnation of her goddess. What follows is a sometimes heartbreaking, but always int
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RASANA ATREYA has sailed two-and-a-half of the seven seas, survived Disneyland and is hanging on to her sanity - barely - as she raises a teen and a younger kid who thinks she's too cool to be pre-teen.

Rasana is embarrassed to admit she once worked in a job that paid real money. Happily enough, that phase passed, and now she finds herself the author of three books set in India, the first of which
More about Rasana Atreya...

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“I just wanted to be an ordinary girl, married to a man who would provide me with a municipal tap, and three meals a day, while I cooked and cleaned for him.” 6 likes
“I am not my husband's wife, nor my child's mother...who, then, am I?” 4 likes
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