Publication Date: August 4, 2020
Publisher: MIRA BooksLIES LIES LIES (MIRA Trade Paperback; August 4, 2020; $17.99) centers on the story of Simon and Daisy Barnes. To the outside world, Simon and Daisy look like they have a perfect life. They have jobs they love, an angelic, talented daughter, a tight group of friends... and they have secrets too. Secrets that will find their way to the light, one way or the other.
Daisy and Simon spent almost a decade hoping for the child that fate cruelly seemed to keep from them. It wasn’t until, with their marriage nearly in shambles and Daisy driven to desperation, little Millie was born. Perfect in every way, healing the Barnes family into a happy unit of three. Ever indulgent Simon hopes for one more miracle, one more baby. But his doctor’s visit shatters the illusion of the family he holds so dear..
May 1976Simon was six years old when he first tasted beer.
He was bathed and ready for bed wearing soft pyjamas, even though it was light outside; still early. Other kids were in the street, playing on their bikes, kicking a football. He could hear them through the open window, although he couldn’t see them because the blinds were closed. His daddy didn’t like the evening light glaring on the TV screen, his mummy didn’t like the neighbours looking in; keeping the room dark was something they agreed on.His mummy didn’t like a lot of things: wasted food, messy bedrooms, Daddy driving too fast, his sister throwing a tantrum in public. Mummy liked ‘having standards’. He didn’t know what that meant, exactly. There was a standard-bearer at Cubs; he was a big boy and got to wave the flag at the front of the parade, but his mummy didn’t have a flag, so it was unclear. What was clear was that she didn’t like him to be in the street after six o’clock. She thought it was common. He wasn’t sure what common was either, something to do with having fun. She bathed him straight after tea and made him put on pyjamas, so that he couldn’t sneak outside.He didn’t know what his daddy didn’t like, just what he did like. His daddy was always thirsty and liked a drink. When he was thirsty he was grumpy and when he had a drink, he laughed a lot. His daddy was an accountant and like to count in lots of different ways: “a swift one’, “a cold one’, and ‘one more for the road’. Sometimes Simon though his daddy was lying when he said he was an accountant; most likely, he was a pirate or a wizard. He said to people, “Pick your poison’, which sounded like something pirates might say, and he liked to drink, “the hair of a dog’ in the morning at the weekends, which was definitely a spell. Simon asked his mummy about it once and she told him to stop being silly and never to say those silly things outside the house.He had been playing with his Etch A Sketch, which was only two months old and was a birthday present. Having seen it advertised on TV, Simon had begged for it, but it was disappointing. Just two silly knobs making lines that went up and down, side to side. Limited. Boring. He was bored. The furniture in the room was organised so all of it was pointing at the TV which was blaring but not interesting. The news. His parents liked watching the news, but he didn’t. His father was nursing a can of the grown ups’ pop that Simon was never allowed. The pop that smelt like nothing else, fruity and dark and tempting.“Can I have a sip?” he asked.“Don’t be silly, Simon,” his mother interjected. “You’re far too young. Beer is for daddies.” He thought she said ‘daddies’, but she might have said ‘baddies’.His father put the can to his lips, glared at his mother, cold. A look that said, “Shut up woman, this is man’s business.” His mother had blushed, looked away as though she couldn’t stand to watch, but she held her tongue. Perhaps she thought the bitterness wouldn’t be to his taste, that one sip would put him off. He didn’t like the taste. But he enjoyed the collusion. He didn’t know that word then, but he instinctively understood the thrill. He and his daddy drinking grown ups’ pop! His father had looked satisfied when he swallowed back the first mouthful, then pushed for a second. He looked almost proud. Simon tasted the aluminium can, the snappy biting bitter bubbles and it lit a fuse.After that, in the mornings, Simon would sometimes get up early, before Mummy or Daddy or his little sister, and he’d dash around the house before school, tidying up. He’d open the curtains, empty the ashtrays, clear away the discarded cans. Invariably his mother went to bed before his father. Perhaps she didn’t want to have to watch him drink himself into a stupor every night, perhaps she hoped denying him an audience might take away some of the fun for him, some of the need. She never saw just how bad the place looked by the time his father staggered upstairs to bed. Simon knew it was important that she didn’t see that particular brand of chaos.Occasionally there would be a small amount of beer left in one of the cans. Simon would slurp it back. He found he liked the flat, forbidden, taste just as much as the fizzy hit of fresh beer. He’d throw open a window, so the cigarette smoke and the secrets could drift away. When his mother came downstairs, she would smile at him and thank him for tidying up.“You’re a good boy, Simon,” she’d say with some relief. And no idea.When there weren’t dregs to be slugged, he sometimes opened a new can. Threw half of it down his throat before eating his breakfast. His father never kept count.Some people say their favourite smell is freshly baked bread, others say coffee or a campfire. From a very young age, few scents could pop Simon’s nerve endings like the scent of beer.The promise of it.Excerpted from Lies Lies Lies by Adele Parks, Copyright © 2020 by Adele Parks.Published by MIRA Books
Authoress Adele Parks Lies, Lies, Lies is a story that begins as a family drama. But evolves into so much more over time.
Possessed of an amazingly complex story-line. What at first glance appears to be a story chronicling one family's battles with fertility issues and alcohol addiction. Soon morphs and grows, turning in upon itself and becoming a labyrinth of secrets, doubts, abuse, fear, recriminations, and lies, lies, and more lies.
Fracturing souls, lives, and a family. And leaving a marriage and family already on the brink of collapse seemingly forever beyond repair.
All Simon and Daisy have ever wanted is a child. Or in the case of Simon, children. But Daisy's fibroids and Simon's nonexistent sperm count seem to have conspired to nix that dream. In a way that even the miracle of IVF can't manage to fix.
Until the miracle that is Millie.
The blonde haired, blue eyed, bundle of perfection that the two managed to conceive "the old fashioned way".
Or so they thought.
Flash forward six years.
Milly is all that the two proud parents could ever want. And all seems perfect in Daisy and Simon's world.
It's true that Simon drinks a bit more than he should. And things with Daisy have settled in to a bit of a routine.
But that happens with all couples, right?
They're happy aren't they?
Or at least they would be.
They had another baby.
At least that's what Simon believes, and is doing all he can to convince a reluctant Daisy of.
And its off to the fertility clinic for tests that prove the unthinkable.
And sends Simon on an alcohol driven downward spiral that is at once fascinating to see and horrific to watch.
A spiral at the end of which, we find that the one person we thought to be the problem. Turns out to be merely the one destined to open the Pandora's box surrounding Milly.
Their sweetest dream come true. Destined to live a nightmare crafted for her by her parents' inability to face, deal with, or tell the truth. Both to themselves and to each other.
A nightmare that just may cost everyone everything.
Even their lives.
Simon, Simon, Simon.
Everything seems to begin with the lovable drunk gone terribly wrong. But this is a man who at his core is having to deal with the fact that everything that he thought he knew about his world his daughter, and his wife, is simply not true.
And rather than face those issues head on.
He chooses to hide literally "in a bottle". While his life implodes.
He is that character that you really want to hate. But you just can't.
Daisy on the other hand...
So good, so kind, so long suffering, so vigilant. Is the one person that one does come to hate over time.
Not for what she does.
She's got all the boxes ticked that every uber "doer" should.
-Clean up after drunkard husband. Check.
-Be the perfect mother, Check
-Be the wallflower best friend. Check
-Lie about everything...hmmmmm.
Daisy's problem is not it seems. Nor could it ever be that she does things.
Daisy's problem, dear reader, as well as the whole premise of this tragedy.
Resides firmly in the fact that Daisy's apparent victimhood and it's well appointed side of martyrdom work in concert to render her ineffectual on so many levels. That in the end. She becomes 'side-eye worthy" in the worst way.
In the interest of time and my already flagrant disregard for brevity. I will end the commentary here.
But please hear me when I say that Adele Parks' Lies Lies Lies is a family drama like no other. Written to make you cringe, maybe cry, but most of all to consider what true intimacy, family bonds, and honesty really mean. In a world where it has indeed become the norm and seemingly so much kinder to LIE.
*WTF Are You Reading? would like to thank Netgalley and Mira Books for providing the review copy on which this nonbiased and completely honest critique is based.