Sunday, August 09, 2020

Tiny White Lies by Fiona Palmer

It's funny when you go back through your archives and find posts that you had completely forgotten about. In this case, I followed my tag for Fiona Palmer and found a post from 2012 where I interviewed three authors about the rise of rural fiction as a genre. The other two authors that were included in that post were Karly Lane and Fleur McDonald. The irony is that, despite my best intentions at the time, I still hadn't read any of their books. Until now.

Tiny White Lies is the story of two best friends, who share everything. Or do they? They became friends when their daughters started high school but whilst the girl's friendship doesn't seem to have survived, Ashley and Nikki are very close.

Ashley has reached breaking point. She is recently widowed, her daughter Emily is being cyber bullied and now she has been let go from the job that she needs in order to survive financially. But that's something she can't tell anyone just yet.

Her best friend Nikki has what appears to be the perfect life. She has a handsome, attentive husband who would do anything for her, she has a son and daughter. Really she's living the dream. But her son Josh is stuck in his room playing computer games all day every day, and she can't connect with her daughter Chloe at all. And that attentive husband, well, she just feels completely and utterly smothered, and she can't bear to be touched by Chris. But to Nikki, it is important to maintain the facade of the perfect life.

Chris has a cousin who has a property on the beach in southern Western Australia. Luke is a single parent to his son Mickey, and has been since his wife left. He's a farmer but he had a plan to set up some holiday camp with shacks to help supplement his income. When it is suggested that the two families could do with some time away, Chris offers up his property, despite the fact that the facilities are somewhat rustic. And what the kids don't know until they get there is that there is no internet coverage. Not even one bar! For Chloe this is particularly bad news. How can she keep up with Snapchat and post to Instagram with no coverage!

As the two families travel south, Nikki discovers something that changes everything for her. The kids are sullen, Nikki is upset and Chris doesn't know what is wrong. It doesn't bode well for three weeks at the beach in winter.

Gradually as they settle into their new environment, the families begin to reconnect, but the only way to do that is for the truth to come out. For Ash, this means gaining the courage to talk about her husband and his death and give Emily the chance to so too. For Nikki, it means being honest with herself as much as anyone about her role in how she feels about her husband. Nikki has been dealing with body issues her whole life, and over the last year she has been hiding something from her entire family. And for all of the kids, it means putting down their screens and getting back to simple forms of entertainment, like playing board games, watching sheep be born or heading to the beach.

In the opening part of this book, I could totally relate to Nikki and her frustrations with the fact that her son spent all of his time playing video games. My son is the same and it drives me mad. There are days that I would happily put a screwdriver through the Xbox. It was, however, Ash who I related to more. I spent many years as a single parent, and the worry about what is the best thing to do is constant. There were times that I was frustrated with Nikki in particular, but I guess I did understand why she had closed herself off so much.

I mentioned before that I interviewed Fiona about rural romance. This is not strictly rural romance although there is some aspects of this in the story. It is more contemporary fiction with it's focus on issues like grief, bullying, parenthood and body image issues, but it does have a rural setting. I love the idea of staying down by the beach in winter, although I think I would prefer more creature comforts than were on offer on Luke's farm.

So it's taken me 8 years to read a Fiona Palmer book. The question is will I read more, and the answer is yes, I do believe I will. This was an enjoyable enough read. Maybe I will finally read one of her rural romances.

Rating 3.5/5

Goodreads summary
Two families escape the rat race to holiday at a remote coastal retreat, but what lies are they telling themselves and each other? The new family drama by beloved Australian storyteller Fiona Palmer
Ashley has recently lost her husband. Daughter Emily is being bullied online.
Best friend Nikki is holding a huge secret. And why is husband, Chris, receiving so many text messages lately?
Their teenage children are glued to technology, be it PlayStation, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat . . .
The two women hatch a plan: for three weeks, both families will stay in a rustic, remote coastal camp with no phone reception. While the teenagers struggle to embrace this new world of self-entertaining in the rugged bushland, the adults are trying to maintain a certain facade. Soon, around the flames of the camp fire, their tiny white lies might just begin to be exposed.

1 comment:

  1. It happens to me too! I'll find some old post about wanting to read some author and years later still nothing. Too many books is the problem! :)
    I don't think I've read a book with this setting so for that alone, I think I would enjoy it. I'm much more into creature comforts when on vacation too but there are times that being away from the constant news doesn't sound too bad :)