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A Beautiful Lie

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  646 ratings  ·  133 reviews
An extraordinarily rich debut novel, set in India in 1947 at the time of Partition. Although the backdrop is this key event in Indian history, the novel is even more far-reaching, touching on the importance of tolerance, love and family. The main character is Bilal, a boy determined to protect his dying father from the news of Partition - news that he knows will break his ...more
Paperback, 298 pages
Published January 4th 2011 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
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Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  646 ratings  ·  133 reviews

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Michelle (Fluttering Butterflies)
I absolutely loved this book. I'd seen other book bloggers review A Beautiful Lie previously and everyone had lovely thing to say about it, but until I read it, I didn't fully understand. It's such a sweet and sad story, one that will stay with me for awhile.

Bilal is a young boy, living in India with his father. All around him, in his village and in all of India there has been trouble with the news of the upcoming Partition. I was only vaguely aware of what Partition was and what had happened be
May 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a truly moving and unique debut novel. Told by a young boy Bilal who is seeing the India he has known his whole life about to be transformed with the partition of his country in 1947. Bilat is shocked to hear his father is dying and know's that if he was to discover about the change that was coming it would not only kill him but break his heart. With the help of his friends Bilat will try and make sure that his father never knows the truth.

A beautiful Lie has many themes with family love
Aug 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anna by: npl
"Everyone lies."
― Irfan Master, A Beautiful Lie

I am absolutely stunned by this story!

Bilal's father is dying as India is hurtling toward partition.
He co-opts his 3 friends -- Saleem, Chota and Manjeet -- to help him keep this terrible news from his father and to help him keep his secret from the other adults.

"The soul of India can't be decided by a few men gathered around a map clucking like chickens about who deserves the largest pile of feed. They can talk all they want -- until the end of ti
Mariah Mead
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
'A Beautiful Lie' by Irfan Master tells of a 13-year-old boy named Bilal. The story is set in Northern India in the year 1947 before the partition of India. Bilal's father is ill and dying. The quest of Bilal is to keep all bad news from his father so that he can live his last months under the impression that India is the peaceful country it had once been. The book follows Bilal and his three friends: Saleem, Chota, and Manjeet, as they work to hide the truth and clothe Bilal's father's home wit ...more
Michelle Cotnoir
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sweet friendships, thought - provoking, memorable story. We loved it and highly recommend.
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this story about the days leading up to the partition in India.
Jan 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It is so moving.

Nov 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was a wonderful book. The story is told by a young boy, Bilal, just prior to the Partition in India in 1947 when the country is in upheaval. Bilal's beloved father is dying from cancer, and Bilal makes the difficult decision to keep the news of the Partition from his father during his last days; hence the "beautiful lie." The writing is beautiful. I really loved it. ...more
Alise (not Alice!!!!!)
Feb 23, 2020 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Lots of description and emotion, worth a read.
Aisyah Baisa
i cried at the end. a lot. 😢😢
Hanne T
this was a good book, about a time in history I wasn't really familiar with?
writing style was really good, story was not bad
one I will vaguely remember for a long time
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful story about a boy named Bilal and the lie he chooses to live with to protect his dying father from the partition of India. Set in June of 1947, India is about to gain independence from Britain and is on the brink of a divide between two religions - Hinduism and Muslim. This divide created the majority of Muslims to flock to a newly independent country, Pakistan, while people who practiced Hinduism stayed in India.

Bilal, his friends, and a few other important characters stick togethe
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cassi aka Snow White Haggard
3.5/5 stars

A Beautiful Lie is written for a younger audience than I anticipated but I like the idea of this book for a middle grade reader. It's set in the days leading up to the Partition in India. I've always found India fascinating (the colors, the food!) but frankly aside from all the classic children books that use it as a backdrop, I know nothing about it. (I.E. Little Princess, Secret Garden).

In the waning days of Bilal's father's life, India is quickly unravelling. A muslim who grew up
Jan 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
A beautiful lie because the main character told the lie so well. It explains how sometimes a lie can be for the good of others but then again it can drastic effects. This is a great book even though it would not be my normal choice of books.
Jun 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india, 2016
This book is beautiful yet poignant. It's a tear jerking. For some reasons I forgot that our character was still 13 years old. I'm losing words to described it.... ...more
May 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
I almost gave this three stars because of the following.

- I really liked the fact that, in his letter (view spoiler), he doesn't know everything and what is going to happen. He asks Bilal to tell Rafeeq he loves him and has never forgotten him (view spoiler)
“Education and literature, my boy, we are all deserving of that. If you have it, you must not deprive others of it.” (Pg. 13)

What an unexpectedly beautiful story about a young boy Bilal and his father in 1940s India where the entire country is at the beginnings of civil religious war and Partition and all Bilal wants to do is bring back his deceased mother and keep his father alive..You enter the story with the compassionate, brilliant and strong Bapuji who is raising his son Bilal alone..Bapuj
Anthony Burt
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Set in post-war India, this incredibly warm and realistic middle-grade tale is about a young boy called Bilal. He lives in a small market town - at the time when sectarian violence is erupting between Muslims, Sikhs and Christians – and is nursing his sick father (or “Bapuji”) who is dying from cancer.

Irfan Master’s story is beautifully accessible, a real page-turner and addresses some of the really horrific realities of what people experienced during post-Colonial rule and the subsequent parti
En Wai
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sue Lyle
Oct 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Set on the eve of the creation of India and Pakistan it tells the story of one Muslim boy and his friends and his beautiful lie. He doesn't want to tell his dying father that partition will take place and it will be bloody. As things move to the fateful day we experience the fear through his eyes. In the UK many primary schools do a topic on India in Year 6 and this would be an ideal novel. It would also make interesting reading for those studying the Second World War. Set in the same era, India ...more
Johanna Burton
This book was really good. I need to do some more research on the partition because I had never known anything about it. I can't believe that India changed like that almost overnight. Bilal is such a strong character. I think that the author did a great job of portraying the emotions of the characters especially Bilal. I'm not going to spoil anything but I loved how the epilogue concluded the story. ...more
East Chapel Hill High School Library
India, 1947, just before the Partition of India. What is most striking about this book is the love between young Bilal and his 3 buddies, and more importantly, his devotion to his dying father. His plan to keep his father happy is admirable if a bit farfetched. However, the strong bonds between people despite the atrocities surrounding them is heartwarming. I didn't love this book, but I loved Bilal. ...more
May 25, 2017 rated it liked it
A young adults book centred on India's pending 1947 split from Pakistan (co-incidentally the similarly themed movie Viceroy House has just opened). Worth reading for those of us interested in the subcontinent. ...more
Oct 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Indonesia version is so beautiful and perfecly translated by Tanti Lesmana. The story is perfect bed time story for adult.. bravo for the author and translator.
Thank’s to Gramedia for this book available in Indonesian language
Chris Meehan
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017-challenge
Gopiga Jothiraj
Jun 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Last few chapters are worth reading.
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Quite a sad story and make you reflect on yourself personally
Kristine Rogers
Jun 15, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s-lit
I generally don't like stories in which the main theme is an ongoing lie. This was no exception. ...more
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Irfan Master is project manager of Reading the Game at the National Literacy Trust. His family is from Gujarat, India, where his debut novel is set. He lives in England.

News & Interviews

Happy Women's History Month! One of the undisputedly good things about modern scholarship is that women’s history is finally getting its due....
99 likes · 16 comments
“If you tell a lie long enough, it becomes real. Then the lie no longer exists and all you're left with is your version of the truth.” 7 likes
“Remember that you told me that a monsoon doesn't discriminate? Rich or poor, kind or cruel, we are all equal in the monsoon. And yet we carry on as normal! We go to school, market stalls open and close, we play cricket, we laugh. Meanwhile, the monsoon gathers. We are all liars, Ma. We are all great deceivers. I am a liar but I'm not the only one.” 2 likes
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