editor's choice



AS I WAS READING NORA ROBERTS’ NEW NOVEL, THE LIAR, the chorus of Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Homeward bound’ was playing on a loop in my head, so much so that I had to put it on my turntable. And Homeward Bound would actually be an appropriate title for this book, since one of the dominant themes is the nature of ‘home’ – or rather ‘home is where the heart is’.

NoraRobertsTheLiarUKcoverindexThe Liar is an interesting book. It is, without a doubt, action packed, rather like something written under the guise of Roberts’ alter ego, JD Robb, and yet, it also harks back to her earlier novels in tone and feel, the Chesapeake Bay series, in particular. And by that I mean in the way that Roberts paints her landscape so evocatively, bringing the countryside and beauty of Tennessee, where the majority of the book is set, to life – contrasting it with the starkness of ‘the monster house’ in the ‘best of the Philadelphia suburbs’, where it opens.

The premise of the book is simple. Recently widowed Shelby Anne Pomeroy discovers that her husband, Richard, is not at all what he seemed and that the ‘perfect’ life that he built for them is a complete sham. She not only has to face the fact that she has been badly deceived, but also that her husband was a cheat and a liar – hence the title of the book.

Roberts sets up Shelby’s urban life well in the first 50 pages or so, meticulously detailing her relentless search to unveil the truth and also her increasing humiliation as she discovers the extent of Richard’s deception. However, what’s more interesting, at least to me, is Shelby’s journey to self-discovery.

Like any woman – or person – who has suffered degradation in a relationship, marriage or not, Shelby is understandably ashamed, blaming herself for the situation that she finds herself in. Her pride is hurt – and yet that pride, combined with her need to provide for her young child, make her determined to deal by herself with as much of Richard’s financial nightmare as she can before she can allow herself to return home to her family. This is her self-imposed punishment; home her reward. Essentially, Shelby turns from someone completely alone, intentionally isolated and disenfranchised by Richard, into a woman who rises from his ashes to become the person who she was probably always meant to be.

Thus, when she returns to Rendezvous Ridge to her close-knit family and community, it is on her own terms – and Roberts makes it clear how much this means to Shelby, how much she gave up through marriage.

By noon she was winding, winding up through the green with her window half down so she could smell the mountains. The pine, the rivers and streams. Here there was no snow. Instead wildflowers sprouted – little stars, drops of color – and the houses and cabins she passed had daffodils springing yellow as fresh butter. Here clothes flapped on lines so the sheets would carry that scent into bedrooms. Hawks circled above in the blue.’*

Shelby’s family is a large, sprawling, energetic mass of people – blood and otherwise – and this is truly where Roberts come into her own as she creates such extended networks so beautifully. The Pomeroys/MacNees are a worthy addition to Roberts’ other extremely engaging, sprawling broods, among them the O’Hurleys, the Quinns and, my personal favourite’s, the MacGregors. All embracing, they take Shelby and young Callie back into the fold and, while there are questions and some expected accountability on Shelby’s part, their love is unconditional, their support immediate.

The Liar examines how one regains confidence and, with that, balance after life throws one of its many curve balls. Shelby inevitably finds her feet again, slowly blossoming under the watchful eyes of her beloved grandparents, parents and siblings, who embrace her and Callie, wholeheartedly.

She is determined to be independent and faces up to the many and varied challenges thrown at her in Tennessee, both familiar and not, with grit and verve. However, she must also learn to trust again – to accept that all men are not necessarily Machiavellian and this is where Griffin Lott, the salt of the earth male protagonist, comes in. Griff, by being the very antithesis of Richard, leaves Shelby with yet another dilemma – whether she can truly accept him into her and Callie’s life, no holds barred.

The Liar is Roberts at her best, creating strong-minded characters, who, for whatever reason, have lost their way, dealing with personal crises and outside threats face on, their family and friends by their side. Add in a beautiful landscape, the minutiae of small-town American life and a great dog – and what more do you want? Really.

Apart from Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Homeward Bound‘ playing in the background…


The Liar is published on 14 April 2014 by Piatkus in the UK and by Putnam in the United States.



Images and text: The Liar (UK cover; Piatkus); quote from page 56; Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Homeward bound’ (1966; Canadian TV performance via YouTube).

Thanks: to Clara Diaz at Piatkus


See also: ‘Nora Roberts’ The Collector – falling into a pair of safe arms’; ‘Family matters – JD Robb’s Obsession in Death; ‘Dallas does Christmas, albeit reluctantly – JD Robb’s Festive in Death; ‘Believing Nora Roberts Land – take novelist Ava Miles’ advice’

Interview:Some like it hot – the joy of Carole Mortimer, award-winning romance novelist‘ (and RWA Nora Roberts’ Lifetime Achievement Award 2015 recipient)

Also of interest:The Banter Sessions #1 – best-selling authors Kate Perry and Ava Miles take twenty’; ‘Meet Kate Perry – Literary It Girl or ‘Demented Victorian‘ [interview] ‘Kate Perry’s Give a Little – Beatrice in love’;

Social media:Pinterest – “inspiration snacking” or something more?


Notice: The above images and quotations are intended to be for promotional purposes only. In no way, have we have intentionally breached anyone’s copyright.

Copyright ©Kate Perry/Ava Miles/The Literary Shed, 2015. All opinions expressed are The Literary Shed and the authors’ own. We welcome your feedback and comments so please do contact us or fill in the form below. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please request permission. Thank you.