Review: SOMETIMES I LIE by Alice Feeney

Amber wants you to know three things about her:

  1. She is in a coma
  2. Her husband doesn’t love her anymore
  3. Sometimes she lies

I would add three more things that you ought to know before you embark on her story:

  1. She is a narcissist
  2. She has no sense of humour
  3. She could whine for England

I would never have read this book but for the fact it was this month’s selection for my book club. So I persevered through to the bitter, bonkers end of what is known in these parts as GIRL IN A COMA.

The book unfolds in three narrative strands. One is Amber’s present, it’s Boxing Day and she is in a coma. Though not, alas, enough of one to stop the whining. The second thread starts about a week before that and teases out the events that led up to the coma. The third is extracts from childhood diaries that, presumably, provide some insight into a corresponding adult’s life. This multiple timeline structure has become a common approach to storytelling but to be as fair as I can – given I wanted to pull the plugs of every machine keeping fictional Amber alive – Feeney handles the complexity as well as anyone. The writing is not the problem here.

The problem is that when a book uses an admittedly unreliable first-person perspective that central person has to engage me. Amber didn’t. She is self-absorbed and takes everything so bloody seriously I wanted to carry out physical harm. If you can’t find a little bit of self-deprecating humour in the life you are sharing with others then you should at least be fabulously windswept and interesting. Amber is not. Amber is full of angst at the petty injustices of her world. Amber is a colossal bore whose potential demise I cared nothing about, except to hope for it to become a reality sooner rather than later.

As far as suspense goes it is almost the half-way point of the book before anything approaching drama starts to build (the coma itself doesn’t count as it is announced on the book’s front cover). That’s quite a lot of boring details of an uninteresting life to wade through before anything vaguely interesting arrives. Things do pick up after this. There are the requisite twists and lots of ‘reveals’ but for me it was too little, too late. The book is another in that category where an interesting or quirky premise is not backed up with nearly enough depth. A book needs to be much more than its blurb.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Narrator Stephanie Racine
Publisher Macmillan Audio, 2017
Length 9 hours 26 minutes
Format audio (mp3)
Book Series standalone
Source of review copy I bought it

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6 Responses to Review: SOMETIMES I LIE by Alice Feeney

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    Sorry to hear this one disappointed you, Bernadette. I couldn’t possibly agree more about the unreliable narrator: it’s got to be an engaging character if that premise is going to work. Sounds as though it didn’t here. Hmmm…I think that’s one I’ll wait a bit – or a while – before reading…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. rkottery says:

    A shame you didn’t enjoy this one. But you didn’t enjoy it in such an entertaining way, I can’t be that sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have this book on my Goodreads shelf, but now I’m not so sure I still want to read it. Not when there are so many great books to pick up and such a short time to read them all…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love it when you rant. Wasn’t going to read this, now definitely won’t. Your statements at the top read like one of those logic problems, with the truthtellers and the liars, and the statements to combine. What can we conclude from this… just that no, I REALLY won’t be reading this…

    Liked by 1 person

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