Stephanie's Reviews > Gorgeous Lies

Gorgeous Lies by Martha McPhee
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's review
Dec 21, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: comingofage
Recommended for: adult children of 1970s insanity
Read in January, 2007

After reading Martha McPhee's Bright Angel Time, a fictionalized account of her family, I immediately moved on to Gorgeous Lies, which continues the saga 20 years later. Although I enjoyed the first book immensely, I was somehow convinced I would hate its sequel. Happily, I was wrong. Gorgeous Lies is a fascinating exploration of how even toxic relationships can deepen and grow over the years.

Patriarch Anton Furey learns he is dying of cancer. Upon hearing the news of their father's impending death, his nine children rush to his side to say goodbye. Although Anton is obviously a twisted guy, he's also a very seductive one. At the end of his life, the people he's hurt most -- his loved ones -- can't get away from the fact that he's had had a tremendous impact on all of their lives, and not all of it was bad. Wives, lovers, friends and children all agree that while he was a delusional, power-hungry bastard, he was also a visionary. His courage to lead an unconventional life cobbled his family in some ways, but liberated it in others.

In a feat of writerly genius, McPhee manages to make the reader feel sympathetic toward a pretty reprehensible character. I thought this book showed a lot of wisdom and maturity, and it made me feel a wee bit better about my own complicated familial relationships. At any rate, it's nice to read an account of somebody else who kept her sanity after growing up during a very tumultuous decade. Maybe there's hope for me yet!
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