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Reader Views @readerviews recommended and rated this book 5 stars

“Joyous Lies,” by Margaret Ann Spence, is a compelling story of secrets and lies. Main character Maelle Woolley feels more comfortable around plants than she does people. And that’s for a reason that goes back to her childhood when she learned at an early age the people you care about aren’t always around, and others can’t be trusted. After her mother died under mysterious circumstances, Maelle grew up on a commune belonging to her grandparents, where she was influenced to believe in the utopian dream of peace and love for everyone. She matures into a brilliant botanist. A little shy and awkward, but handsome psychiatrist Zachary Kane stirs up feelings she’s unaccustomed to. But Zachary offers information that rocks her world, and that is that her parents didn’t survive his father’s medical research facility. She is compelled to look into it, and what she finds out flies in the face of what she thought was true. Disillusioned but determined, Maelle has to dig deep to face the commune’s deceptions and find out if she can believe in love again.

Spence has crafted a suspenseful mystery that involves readers from beginning to end. I really like the author’s attention to character development, especially with protagonist Maelle. Through descriptions and actions, we come to learn about her personality, her motivations, her hopes, fears, and beliefs. Maelle isn’t a cookie-cutter character, and she isn’t that bold, at least in the beginning, preferring to play it safe among her plants. But we witness her growth and change along with her as she encounters revelations and truths she never expected. Zachary the psychiatrist is an interesting character too, and they play off of each other well.

The idea of using a commune as a feature of the story is intriguing, as well as the medical aspects. Thanks to Spence’s detail and story development, I found myself interested in the plant work Maelle is involved in, and maybe you will too. The author has created a thoroughly intriguing and entertaining storyline that challenges the characters and gives readers plenty to sort out along the way. “Joyous Lies,” by Margaret Ann Spence, will be a joy for fans of mystery and suspense.
Posted By: Reader Views (@readerviews)
5 stars for Joyous Lies by @MargAnnSpence #womensfiction #familydrama #bookreview

Maelle Wooley would rather be around plants than people. After her mother’s suspicious death, Maelle was raised on her grandparents’ commune and blindly believes in the main tenant of the commune: love one another. All her beliefs are called into question when she falls in love with Zachary Kane. He challenges her to uncover the truth. She investigates and what she finds will shock her. The commune’s secrets are exposed and her trust crumbles. Can Maelle learn to love through the pain or will she retreat to her plants and joyous lies?

Joyous Lies is a brilliant story of one woman’s strength to break through the concrete wall of lies surrounding her to uncover the truth. I’ve never lived in a commune, but I have been a part of a family where lies are told to ‘protect’ others. Protecting someone by lying is an entrenched theme in Joyous Lies. I found it an engrossing read, filled with dramatic tension, plot twists, and a heroine I connected with on so many levels. The character-driven plot moves at a great pace with natural ebbs and flows. What makes Joyous Lies such an unforgettable read is the research Margaret Ann Spence must have done. Intricate narration and historical accuracies add incredible depth to this story. It allowed me to see the consequences of war in a whole new light. If you love family drama, you’ll want to read Joyous Lies. If you’re looking for a women’s fiction you can’t put down, pick up Joyous Lies. Highly recommend!
Posted By: N. N. Light
This book is an absolute pleasure to read. The characters are three-dimensional and flawed in ways that are both realistic and sometimes frustrating. All the better to advance the plot, and what a wonderful plot it is.

The reader follows divorced British caterer Camilla Fetherwell as she grows her business in Boston, navigates family issues in great Britain, and finds what? Love perhaps? On both sides of the Atlantic. Throw in a mysterious young woman who may hold the answers to a decades old mystery, and you've got the recipe (pun intended) for a page turner.

The relationships in this novel are handled with finesse and the settings are described so beautifully the reader can imagine sitting down for a cup of tea or strolling through an English garden.

This book is beautifully written and deeply satisfying. As a bonus it contains some of Camilla's favorite recipes.
Posted By: Heidi Weinmann
I love this book. I found Margaret Ann Spence’s story about the life of foodie and successful caterer, Camilla Fetherwell, enchanting and evocative. Spence captures the eloquence and nuance of language and artfully presents a snapshot of family, loves and loyalties. As a therapist, I’ve always been fascinated by the notion of family secrets and the impact their revelation has on us. Most of us share only part of ourselves with the world. Spence raises the topic of secret lives and folds it, like Camilla’s egg whites, seamlessly into her story. At the same time, Spence, sometimes whimsically, seems to be asking us questions about the interplay between illusion and reality. Would the strawberry look as luscious and taste as delectable without the lipstick?
Not since I pondered over Liane Moriarty’s Husband’s Secret or heard of a writer friend discovering mysterious letters in the attic from her grandmother to a lover, have I given so much thought to the importance of hidden events in our past.
Posted By: Dr. Kixx Goldman
Camilla Fetherwell lives in Boston but has close family ties in the UK. While entertaining and a romping good yarn this book also examines the challenges of those who settle far from home.The 'pull' of home for Camilla complicates her every move and it provides food for thought in this time of global translocation, of the destabilizing effects of migration. Camilla is coping with family loss, marriage loss, loss of youth with all that implies when it comes to motherhood, and a growing sense, as the book progresses, of lonliness. As an ex-pat Brit, living in the US, all these challenges are magnified and the author portrays Camilla as a gutsy young woman who despite her troubles would have it no other way. I love the sibling relationships she develops. Her older bossy sister whose life has been so circumscribed and the younger brother who has only recently come out as gay, reveal a scenario probably working its way through many other families as traditional norms and mores are challenged and changed. The plot is well developed and the author has little (and big!) surprises a long the way that keeps this book sizzling.
I loved it!
Posted By: Christine Lindsay
Things are not what they seem in this tale of romance and family secrets. When professional caterer Camilla travels from Boston to attend her father's memorial in Cambridge, England, she rekindles an erotic relationship with a former lover. Like the lipstick that a photographer uses to pretty up strawberries for Camilla's webpage, the glossy surface of her father's life appears to hide ugly secrets. Camilla seeks the truth -- and, as in a good mystery, she follows clues that lead her (and the reader) down erroneous paths. A cast of believable, flawed characters moves the plot with its twists, turns, and surprises. As the action shifts between Boston, Massachusetts, and Cambridge, England, we find vivid descriptions of the locale and the changing seasons ("The snow had thrust a thick woolen scarf over the day."). Camilla's sumptuous meals tickle our taste buds -- we relish sensual descriptions of food she prepares for her clients and family. Some of her recipes, such as Coffee Walnut Cake and Chicken Citrus Soup, are included at the end of the novel as a bonus. In addition to good entertainment, this book conveys a wise message about life's unpredictability and our human desire for security. As one character puts it: "People are like limpets, cling to a bit of rock for a while, then get knocked off by waves...." This novel will satisfy readers who enjoy thoughtful romance, intriguing mystery, and good writing.
Posted By: Audra

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