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The Lie

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  3,517 ratings  ·  487 reviews
Cornwall, 1920, early spring.

A young man stands on a headland, looking out to sea. He is back from the war, homeless and without family.

Behind him lie the mud, barbed-wire entanglements and terror of the trenches. Behind him is also the most intense relationship of his life, forged in a crucible of shared suffering.

Daniel has survived, but the horror and passion of the pa
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 16th 2014 by Hutchinson
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Average rating 3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,517 ratings  ·  487 reviews

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Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
DNF @ 23%

I'm just not feeling this one. The story seems pretty flat and although the topic of the devastating effects of the WW1 experience is described well, neither the story nor the characters or the storytelling is engaging me enough to want to spend more time with this book.
Onaiza Khan
This is not the kind of books I usually read but god I’m so glad I read this one. Daniel’s journey through the WWI and post war is something I will never forget. You cannot read this book without feeling the horrors and atrocities of the war cut through your heart. It’s a simple story, nothing fancy; it’s just the reality that stabs you.

And coming to the writing, it’s so graceful, so peaceful and soothing, that relieves you making sure that the worst has past.
And lastly, this terrifying tale of
Roz Morris
Jan 25, 2014 rated it it was ok
This was an idea spread too thin with not enough plot and or originality. The writing was certainly good, and where the passages handled strong emotion it was very affecting. But not enough seemed to be done with the idea.
There are two halves to the narrative: the passages set in the trenches and a later time when the character is trying to readjust to normal life, with little success. The wartime scenes are well realised, although a little meandering. But the sections back in this country are a
This is a beautifully written tale about the sacrifices of the WW1 generation. It's been marketed by the line "Can love survive the war?" but this is no simple love story. It's far more complex and layered than that involving a triangle of people who all love each other in such different ways. And the love theme is but one strand and it mostly just simmers under the surface of the story and remains ambiguous to the very end.

The three main characters have known each other since childhood and hav
Katie Lumsden
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing. Helen Dunmore's writing is rich, powerful and compelling. She is the master of the crescendo ending, fantastic at pacing and overall just so outstanding. ...more
Jan 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Helen Dunmore is on top form with her latest novel. It’s a beautifully written and accomplished novel set in Cornwall in 1920. Daniel Branwell arrives home from the trenches, physically unscathed but emotionally and psychologically damaged. His mother died while he was away and he finds refuge with old and solitary Mary Pascoe, who lets him build a shelter on her small-holding in exchange for some practical help. But although the war is over, he can find no real peace here, for he remains haunte ...more
Mar 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've read a lot of both fiction and non-fiction around the First World War as it loomed large in my family.
I'd not come across Helen Dunmore before, but her skill at vividly evoking the horror of the trenches and the tortured soul that is the tragic and shell-shocked survivor Daniel is remarkable.
Her prose is poetic and deserves lingering over, but I found myself unable to put it down as I raced towards the end of the book. I've visited some of those muddy fields only recently and her words cont
Jan 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have long been an admirer of Helen Dunmore and am pleased to say that I greatly enjoyed her latest work. Obviously it is the Centenary of the First World War and so there are bound to be many books about such a cataclysmic historical event which changed Europe, and the people involved, forever. This is a moving read, but events and memories are unravelled slowly – almost poetically – and it is not a book to rush, but to savour and think about.

Daniel Branwell returns to his home in Cornwall aft
Roman Clodia
Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"They say the war's over, but they're wrong. It went too deep for that"

Dunmore has become one of our great contemporary writers: this short, sharp story revisits WW1, both the trenches and the dreadful aftermath as Daniel Branwell tries to rebuild some kind of life for himself after the war.

This is a very literary novel which deliberately uses literature itself to frame both this text, and the story contained within it. From the opening scene the ghosts of Homeric warriors invade this book as D
Marguerite Kaye
Jul 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was pretty close to 5 stars for me, something I rarely award fiction. My first Helen Dunmore, but I already have another on my wish list. Beautifully written, told in the first person, it is a poignant and moving story which flows seamlessly between events during the Great War and the aftermath. Usually when a story flicks backwards and forwards in time, the changes are delineated by chapters or scene markers. In this story, because we hear it through the main protagonist's thoughts, the ch ...more
Nov 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
So far there seems to only be one other review of this book, and to be honest the only point at which I can concur with the other reviewer is in the comparison with The Absolutist; the two books really are rather similar in tone. Apart from that point I disagree with every other aspect of my rival reviewer's opinion. This is a rather lovely, heartbreaking book, which focuses mainly on the aftermath of years spent in the trenches. Daniel has returned 'home' to the far west of Cornwall, and has fo ...more
Tori Clare
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant book. It was a page-turner, but not in the typical sense. I found myself having to stop reading at times, in order to digest the mood and fully appreciate the prose. Helen Dunmore captures the post-WW1 trauma quite magnificently. The protagonist's experience of the war and his relationship with Frederick is delivered in droplets through memories and flashbacks.

It's 1920 now, but is the war really over? He still lives it every day; it's just a different kind of battle. He still sees,
Sue Lyle
May 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I heard The author speak at a literary lunch otherwise I certainly wouldn't have read the book. I'm glad I did. It is a slow moving book reminiscent of how it must have felt in the trenches where progress was agonisingly slow. The theme of lies permeates the book, big and little lies that lies are lived around and affected by. The silence of those who fought in the First World War, my grandfather survived the trenches and never spoke a word of it, but the reverberations of those times stay with ...more
William Koon
Feb 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
I found Helen Dunmore’s The Lie a puzzling book. Certainly it is well written. The main character, Daniel a shell shocked soldier from WWI, is drawn with finesse and art. Puzzling however is the homo-erotic sub theme of the almost “the love that has no name.” Did Daniel really have the hots for his friend? Is the chaste kiss between two soldiers a telling enough point to make a valid raison d’etre for a whole book? I don’t think so.

The scenes from Cornwall run true and deep. The other characters
Jessica Johnson
Jul 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
I didn't finish this one simply because it skipped around so much I couldn't get into it enough. The story was interesting to a point but just not enough. I made it 32% through within a week and a half. I normally don't take that long to read/listen to a book. (Listened via Libby/Overdrive) ...more
Jan 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
I so wanted to love ‘The Lie.’ I have loved her writing for years, ever since curiosity led me to pick up a copy of ‘Burning Bright.’ I was captivated by a story that was a little out of the ordinary, and by words that were used so well, to create such vivid images. I knew then, and the books that followed confirmed, that she was a special author, and author to seek out …..

And I did love ‘The Lie’, but not quite as much as I hoped that I might.

It tells the story of Daniel, who fought in the Grea
Feb 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
For the centenary marking the outbreak of the Great War, Helen Dunmore has developed one of the few remaining neglected themes: the aftermath of the return from the trenches. Bright working class Cornishman Daniel is already an outsider in that he has spent his childhood playing with the children of a local landowner. Too poor to attend grammar school, he is self taught from secretly borrowing books from the wealthy man's library. Outwardly uninjured but destitute, he is allowed to squat on the ...more
Jan Hawke
Jun 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The title of this book can be interpreted in many ways, as revealed by the poignant quotation at the beginning;
'If any question why we died
Tell them, because our fathers lied'.
This beautiful novel is about the aftermath of war particularly for the main protagonists, Dan and Felicia, both doubly bereaved. Dan, the narrator, a 'survivor' of WW1, although physically unharmed was mentally traumatised. Despite this he was clearly a very able and gifted person in many ways and the sense of his missed
Jan 27, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Naomi (The Writes of Women)
Shelves: war, gift, c21st, britain
It seems it’s not possible to read The Lie without comparing it to Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy, which I think is one of the finest attempts to render the horror of World War I in fiction. Malcolm Forbes, who reviewed it for The Australian, thought that:

Pat Barker matches her for historical accuracy and the ability to delve deep into the human psyche, but Dunmore’s haunting, lyrical and mesmeric prose to describe carnage and loss elevates her into a different league. (The Weekend Australian
Jun 24, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read most of Helen Dunmore's novels, but her recent ones haven't bowled me over, this one included. I found it a depressing read. I didn't feel much empathy for Dan and regarded his actions as rather foolish. His relationship with Felicia left me frustrated, urging him to 'just get on with it'! I didn't find his feelings for Frederick particularly convincing either. There is very little plot here and the ending left me feeling 'so what'? It's very well written, as you'd expect from Dunmore ...more
Daniel is a survivor of WWI living with his nightmares and his memories of his seemingly single love of Frederick a childhood friend from a much wealthier family. Daniel has returned to Cornwall and lives on a rundown farm that is near Frederick's old home now owned by his sister Felicity who was briefly married and has a child.
Daniel has haunting flashbacks to the trenches and of the day Frederick dies. This is when the writing is at its best. The sights, sounds and smells of this horrible time
Laura Lee
Nov 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cornwall, England, 1920. Daniel has returned from the war to his poor hometown. His mother has died, he lost his best friend in the war and he has no where to live. He helps out an elderly woman with her farm and camps out there. When the old woman dies, he takes over the cottage. He is reunited with an old childhood friend and things start to turnaround, a little. Very sad, very profound. Writing was excellent. Very heartfelt.
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hypnotic and haunted. There's a thin narrative, but it's broken up by memory, hallucination and ghosts. A poem of a novel. ...more
Stacie (MagicOfBooks)
I will also do a video review here at my channel:

"The Lie" by Helen Dunmore takes place in 1920s Cornwall, following Daniel Branwell who has survived the trenches of war. He lives his days in solitude, working on the land, but he cannot forget the horrors that he survived and the best friend that he lost.

First, I won this through Goodreads Giveaways.

I was really hoping this would be a 5-star book. Let me say this: this is not a bad book. If anything, the writi
Jan Priddy
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is her newest and I loved this novel about the Great War. No wonder all the shouting about this author. I have read so many fine novels set during/after the First World War from all sorts of perspectives. Be warned, this is very sad. Dunmore enters the mind of a deeply damaged veteran of the war.

The story is told from the point of view of Daniel Bramwell, home from the war in 1920 and eking out a living on the farm of a woman locally regarded as a witch. He cares for her, buries her when s
Sep 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another deeply moving book by a writer who never disappoints. Few characters invade this book leaving it clear to concentrate on our hero whose flashbacks to the trenches, the loss of his childhood friend and his torment post war, are at times hard to bear.

Skillfully written this book nevertheless lacks any edge of seat excitement. It is like a beautiful painting, in front of which we stand, stare, wonder and move on.
Dec 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quite nice, diverting read.
A bit depressing, but nonetheless intriguing for the war pictures the author manages to paint.
Not quite sure about the point of the story. Maybe there is no point. Just the same pointlessness war possesses. Who knows.
Although I find the blurb a bit misleading. The Lie (in my opinion) is not at all the centre of the story. It leads to the end, but the end was inevitable anyhow so ...
Beautifully written and a fast read. It might not be in the same league as Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy about WW1 but I enjoyed it and will watch for further titles from Helen Dunmore. ...more
How a lie can have such consequences. Kept jumping backwards and forwards, so a bit comfusing in places. Not quite as good as other Helen Dunmore I have read.
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I was born in December 1952, in Yorkshire, the second of four children. My father was the eldest of twelve, and this extended family has no doubt had a strong influence on my life, as have my own children. In a large family you hear a great many stories. You also come to understand very early that stories hold quite different meanings for different listeners, and can be recast from many viewpoints ...more

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