Sabrina Brawley's Reviews > Living with the Truth

Living with the Truth by Jim  Murdoch
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's review
Aug 23, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: read-in-2008, reviewed-for-breeni-books, permanent-collection

When lonely, crotchety old bookseller Jonathan Payne is visited by the personification of Truth, he finds there is no real escape from the man. Truth forces his way into Jonathan's life, appearing out of the blue one morning on his doorstep, following him to work and invading his much coveted privacy. This Truth fellow is certainly a peculiar character, and he possesses an uncanny ability to throw random facts in one's face. He's Truth; he knows everything about everyone. He's not unlikeable--eccentric, yes--but in an endearing sort of way. His own amusement at the actions of humanity bubbles over into his enthusiasm for his work.

As the day passes, the two become something like friends. Even serious, steadfast Jonathan relaxes at times and allows himself a joke or two. But as they peel away layers of truth, Jonathan is forced to face realities that may be painful, at the least uncomfortable. Jonathan's life is filled with "could have beens" rather than accomplishments. While his current hermit-like existence is comfortable and predictable, his life could have been steered down many paths. And now, at the end of his term, there is absolutely nothing to be done to remedy it. Acceptance and resignation are the key themes.

While Living with the Truth is light on admonishment, it's a quiet reminder that life is too short and to avoid letting life's opportunities pass by. We'd all do well to have Truth look us in the eye now and then. It's done in such a way that the story flows along in an apathetic tone--not without emotion, but not terribly troubling. The reader is an observer in the most fundamental sense of the word. Truth's wry sense of humor coupled with salty British dialect make for an enjoyable read, despite the vanity of Jonathan Payne's situation.

Living With the Truth is Jim Murdoch's debut novel. A sequel is in the works called Stranger Than Fiction. You can visit the author at The Truth About Lies.
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