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The Truth

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  1,379 ratings  ·  240 reviews
“An ingeniously plotted, beautifully written and hugely enjoyable book that raises tricky questions about... our need for heroes [and] the price of personal compromise.’”
The Daily Telegraph

For the first time since his much-beloved tale Hemingway's Chair was published in 1998, Michael Palin pens a new novel featuring the warm and witty story of an everyman, a tantalizing o
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published August 13th 2013 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published 2012)
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Average rating 3.49  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,379 ratings  ·  240 reviews

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Maya Panika
Aug 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Not at all what I was expecting when I started reading - or in a book from Michael Palin. I'm not sure what I was expecting; something closer to his travel books, something more overtly comic, or earnest, I suppose (it is a book, in part, about a renowned environmentalist). What I found was a beautifully understated mystery about a well-meaning, investigative journo who has sold out, mainly, it seems, to finance the demands of a failing marriage. Failing marriage aside, it feels like there's a l ...more
Jan 25, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Omy! Thank goodness that's over. A very dull book with dull characters who were mislead from the start by many people but I could see it immediately. Sorry Mr Palin apart from the bits in India and the descriptions of the places this just wasn't for me. ...more
Oct 18, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is not Palin's best writing endeavor. It isn't even his best novel, as this is far less colorful and engaging than his 1990s's novel, Hemingway's Chair. This is an oddly unemotional, almost drab, novel about very important subjects, and that may be the problem. In an effort to craft a book about multinational destruction of ecosystems, while also casting a critical eye on the publishing world, the problems of middle age, the nature of the British family, the true meaning of integrity ...jus ...more

blurb - Written by Michael Palin.

Keith Mabbut has completed his book on the Sullom Voe oil terminal but feels decidedly unfulfilled. Returning home to London he is determined to embark on a novel.

Keith is at a crossroads in his life. When he is offered the opportunity of a lifetime - to write the biography of the elusive Hamish Melville, a highly influential activist and humanitarian - he seizes the chance to write something meaningful.

His search to find out the real story behind the legend
Poor writing.
Terrible plot.
This is about an 'investigative reporter' who couldn't investigate his way out of a paper bag.
Don't waste your time reading it.
I want to go to a book club meeting - cos havent seen the people for ages. Tried to start this Pile of Palin several times: my whole being balked at reading it - when I got a reminder saying the book was short and could be read fast, I took them at their word and gulped it down very quickly - like nasty medicine. Sadly, unlike the nastiest of m
Jan 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Expecting a clever comedy from renowned ex-Python Michael Palin, what I got instead was a thought-provoking treatise on progress, family, and passion, all encompassed in the adventures of an everyman called Keith Mabbut. It might be easy enough to sum him up simply as a middle-aged man, what with the implied unfulfilled goals, sense of life passing by with a whimper instead of a shout, frayed relationships between ex-wives and adult children, compromises made, integrity cheated, and fleeting sen ...more
Oct 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Begin with a confession first. I'm a huge Palin fan. He can do no wrong in my eyes. I feel like I should be wearing a blue shirt and beige chinos to write this review!

This is the first Michael Palin fiction I've read. It's about a writer, who used to write to defend his beliefs as an angry young man but who has slowly been sucked into writing books for The Man and covering up shady events by rewriting or omitting facts from history.

When he receives an offer to write about his hero, the elusive a
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book about a man struggling between fame/money and truth, something that's kind of important nowadays, don't you think?

Yes, it's written by Michael Palin, and to call me a Monty Python fan would be putting it mildly. But above all the things Palin has been over his successful career, he is first and foremost a writer. He does, though, use his extensive travel knowledge to good use as he describes eastern India as the place where his main character meets his reclusive bio subj
Diane Challenor
Excellent story. I'm a big fan of Michael Palin and over the years we've enjoyed his documentaries. It was pleasing to find his fiction was excellent too. I look forward to more. Well done Mr Palin! ...more
Simon Yoong
For most part the book reads like it was written for tree huggers / green peace / environmentalists. The twist at the end wasn't unexpected, but rather contrived. The bigger question I had was how could someone with a legacy like Michael Palin write a book do devoid of humour and charm? ...more
May 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Keith Mabbut wants to be a good bloke. He supports the right causes. He donates to the right charities. He gives his daughter's Iranian boyfriend a huge sum of money to help him get some family members out of trouble. He wants to be friends with his estranged wife, if that's possible. And mostly, he wants to write a novel, but ends up working on books about other good people, altruistic, brave champions of the little guy, like infamous raconteur Hamish Melville, a man he's long admired.

When we
Oct 03, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
The book started out very slow and flat, I didn't enjoy part one very much at all. However it really picked up with parts two and three, once Mabbut travels to India.

Although very well written, the first part of the story is about feeling stuck, disillusioned and discouraged, which I have experienced enough in my own life that I didn't need eighty pages to describe it for me. It wasn't really the kind of story that pulls you along in the beginning, but something you have to push through reading
Sep 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
I bought this book at Stafford's book store while on vacation in London. On the heals of reading Rachel Joyce's "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry," I found myself again in the neighborhoods and Underground stations I'd just visited, in the company of yet another older Baby Boomer working his way through the last tangles of a messy mid-life. Don't get me wrong--I love their company. And I love that both these books took time to smell the roses along the way. In "The Truth" the roses are inst ...more
Dec 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
As a Monty Python fan, it was Michael Palin, the entertainer, that drew me to this book.

A middle aged, award winning journalist, Keith Mabbut, somehow lost his way from the young, investigative, pro-environment writer he was to become a corporate hack whose latest work extols the virtues of an oil refinery. When a slick publishing firm offers him a plum assignment to write a biography on one of the world's most notorious and successful crusaders against corporate injustices, Mabbut sees an oppor
Mar 07, 2013 rated it liked it
This novel deals with an intriguing theme of great contemporary relevance: a publisher hires a once well-regarded journalist to investigate the life of a highly successful environmental activist whose means and methods are a closely-garded secret. The journalist, who is at a crossroads in his personal and professional life, is initially most reluctant to take up this suspiciously lucrative offer, but finally embraces the challenge and finds out a lot more than he bargained for. Although the pace ...more
Michael Charton
Oct 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Hey, I am a Python fan and I participate on Mr. Palin's site Palin's Travels. Some may find this review slightly biased, but there you have it. No question, I wouldn't have read the book were it not for Mr. Palin being the author.

The protagonist, Keith Mabbut reminded me a little of John Mortimer's Rumpole of the Bailey when Rumpole calls himself a Bailey hack. Keith Mabbut in his writing career might also be described the same way.

Keith Mabbut's agent gets him a deal to write a book about elusi
Malcolm Frawley
Apr 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
I loved Palin's first novel, Hemingway's Chair, & he has finally gotten around to a second. Can't imagine what he's been up to in between. Lazy bastard. Palin is a born story teller with a lovely feel for character. Keith Mabbat's roller coaster ride as he attempts to complete a biography of famous environmentalist, Hamish Melville, is chronicled adeptly & provides the author with opportunities to shine a light on the nefarious activities of multi-national corporations as they spread like cancer ...more
Aug 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For those expecting Python-esque hilarity, this isn't the book for you. A quietly thoughtful, and profound allegorical view of the world and media today, The Truth highlights what is wrong with people, the media, the news; it shows that nothing should get in the way of a good headline.
Why read about difficult subjects that actually will an impact on everyone's day to day lives, when you can keep up with the Kardashians?
Well done Mr Palin, well done. I finished the book with a grin on my face, as
Sep 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I can usually read a Michael Palin book in less than a week. He is a terrifically lyrical writer. Because of life's circumstances, finishing this book took a lot longer than usual. However, I stayed with it and am glad I did. This is a contemporary plot with intersecting storylines - each a great story on its own. For the first time in a long time, I found myself casting the characters for what would eventually be a thrilling movie. ...more
Derelict Space Sheep

Michael Palin, having made a career observing all parts of the world, crafts fiction that feels very real. The Truth flows like a river, slow but deep, its protagonist (captured perfectly by Alex Jennings) gradually breaking free from passivity and cosmic irony.
Sep 19, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to love this book so badly, but in the end i found it underwhelming. It's neatly written but i just found the plot and the characters lacklustre. I'm sorry Mr Palin, I'm so sorry. ...more
Sep 20, 2014 rated it liked it
I would have rated this a 4 until the final revelation at the end, which was both contrived and a letdown. But still an enjoyable read.
Sally Sutton
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
A charity shop purchase. I have never read any fiction by Michael Palin, it was good. Not conventionally a jolly happy book but ultimately it did become that.
Hannah Ouston
Well written and intriguing but very hard to get into to. Very flawed and human characters.
A sad gentle tale about a man passing middle age and realizing that he's not fulfilled the promise that he thought he had when he was younger. Kieth Mabbut who once had been an award winning investigative journalist finally wakes up while writing a book paid for by an oil corporation about said oil corporation and realizes that he's really going nowhere fast. A rather late midlife crises occurs as he loses his wife and is losing his kids and ends his contract and he decides to do something about ...more
Stephanie Allen
Feb 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic! Palin navigates the protagonist, former journalist and writer Keith Mabbut, through the minefield of environmental activism and politics, with the task of writing a biography of one of the world's most well known 'eco warriors' - a man who doesn't want to be written about. As he follows this heroic recluse, Mabbut finds himself progressing deeper into issues of environmental protection, with big multinational corporations warring with local villagers and tribespeople, but is everythin ...more
Aug 26, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction-nope
I made it 16 pages. Just wasn't interesting. ...more
Penny Benson
Jan 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I ‘read’ it as an audio book, borrowed from the library. It was very well narrated by Alex Jennings, who mastered the different accents well.

I found the central character, Keith Mabbut, endearing, a true Everyman. (Maybe Michael wrote himself into this character?) The other characters were well fleshed out too, and I could relate to the interactions that they had with one another - all very real.

The descriptions of the places were evocative, made me think I was there. We ‘tr
Niall Sclater
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story is about a journalist and his attempts to track down a legendary environmental campaigner in India. There are a number of interesting twists throughout, reflections on the protagonist's failed relationship and attempts at starting a new one, and some interesting descriptions of India, presumably partially based on Palin's own experiences there. It's an easy, enjoyable and pleasant read, and well-written too: if you've seen the author on TV, as I have a few times, you can almost hear hi ...more
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Sir Michael Edward Palin, KCMG, CBE, FRGS is an English comedian, actor, writer and television presenter best known for being one of the members of the comedy group Monty Python and for his travel documentaries.

Palin wrote most of his material with Terry Jones. Before Monty Python, they had worked on other shows such as The Ken Dodd Show, The Frost Report and Do Not Adjust Your Set. Palin appeared

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