Big Lies in a Small Town

A Novel

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Pub Date 14 Jan 2020 | Archive Date 20 May 2021


From New York Times bestselling author Diane Chamberlain comes a novel of chilling intrigue, a decades-old disappearance, and one woman’s quest to find the truth…

“A novel about arts and secrets...grippingly told...pulls readers toward a shocking conclusion.”—People magazine, Best New Books

North Carolina, 2018:
Morgan Christopher's life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will get her released from prison immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to be free, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.

North Carolina, 1940:
Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and in great need of work, she accepts. But what she doesn't expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.

What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?

“Chamberlain, a master storyteller, keeps readers hooked, with a story line that leavens history and social commentary with romance and mystery.”—Lexington Dispatch

From New York Times bestselling author Diane Chamberlain comes a novel of chilling intrigue, a decades-old disappearance, and one woman’s quest to find the truth…

“A novel about arts and...

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ISBN 9781250087331
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Featured Reviews

I truly enjoyed this book! The first chapter threw me into Morgan’s world and immediately made me root for her. The unique way Diane Chamberlain alternated between Anna and Morgan with each chapter and kind of mirrored their lives was so intriguing. I couldn’t wait to turn the page or get to the next chapter to see what would happen next to each of them. The details of each of the main characters as well as some of the supporting characters brought them to life in my mind. I always have a movie going in my mind of the story as it unfolds and my mind movie was so real. The ending was amazing, I didn’t see that coming; it fit the story so well and brought it to a great close. Great job! I made short work of this book and loved every minute of it. Thank you for the opportunity to read it.

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I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, which had two main characters, Anna and Morgan, in different eras. The story goes back to the late 1930's when the US Post Office murals were created. Diane Chamberlain describes the expertise required and the process involved in creating the original artwork.

In 2018, the mural in Edentown, NC needs to be restored. Morgan has to quickly learn the differences between creating and restoring artwork. She also wants to discover why she was selected for the job.

The other underlying themes concern racial tensions in a small southern town and the expectations the "town fathers" have about trusting the capabilities of an attractive female artist from the North.

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Big Lies in a Small Town is the latest book by Diane Chamberlain. All the fans of Ms Chamberlain will love this story and anyone who hasn't read her, this is a great novel to start with. As usual with Ms Chamberlain's work, my only regret is that the story ended. I could have continued reading more about these characters for a long time. I was given an early copy to review.

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Thank you to Netgalley, St Martins Press and most of all the Author Diane Chamberlain for this ARC.
This book went to the top of my favorites! I absolutely LOVED it. I love the way it was written chapter wise from one protagonists point of view "then" to the second protagonist point of view "now".
I loved the characters, the setting and just loved the story and how it all came together.
And the Authors notes were very interesting as well.
I will definitely be following and reading more from Diane.

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Big Lies in a Small Town captured my interest from the very beginning. I was equally caught up in both stories - Anna's and Morgan's - and loved the way the story alternated back and forth between them. It made me think about family relationships and friendship, about how some people are able to overcome a rough childhood, and about starting over. I think this book would be a great book discussion title. I want to share it with family and friends.

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I do no say this lightly, but this was one of the most powerful, brilliant books I have ever read. The characters were so well written and the story was just amazing. The story was basically about redemption in many ways, however it was also the story of two women, families, and lots of painting. I love that the book goes backward and forward in time to tell the story, while also drawing in cultural references from the times as well. I have read a few books by this author and am now going to be adding all of her books to my to be read. I will be recommending that everyone read this book.

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Everything Diane Chamberlain writes is a winner in my opinion. Big Lies In a Small Town is truly an exceptionally good read! The genre of the book I would classify as mystery. It’s a story about 2 women that’s told in 2 different timelines. Anna Dale, the artist, is from the 1940’s while Morgan Christopher, the art restorer, is in 2018. The story takes place in Edenton, North Carolina and centers around the painting and restoration of a post office mural. The lesson that Chamberlain wants you to take from reading this book is that you have to make peace with the past or you can never move into the future. That’s a line that’s stated twice in the story. I was very pleased and satisfied with the ending as it explained how and why these two ladies lives were connected. This was a very enjoyable read, one that held my interest and kept me turning the pages. It’s one I will definitely be recommending to all my reader friends. I’d like to thank NetGalley and Naureen Nashid from St. Martin’s Press for allowing me the chance to read an arc in exchange for my honest opinion. I think it’s a 5 star read!

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Captivating, suspenseful, entertaining novel! This beautiful thriller kept me on the edge of my seat while I was reading it! Would highly recommend to those who enjoy this genre.

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Diane Chamberlain writes a compulsive and gripping novel that skillfully weaves the stories of two women from the past and the present. In 2018, 22 year old Morgan Christopher is serving a prison sentence at the North Carolina Correctional Facility in Raleigh for a crime she did not commit. Out of the blue, she receives a visit from Lisa Williams, whose father, the artist Jesse Jameson, has recently died and the lawyer, Andrea Fuller. He left behind a will in which he makes it clear that he wants Morgan to restore a 70 year old mural canvas. There are conditions attached, but it offers Morgan the opportunity to be free from prison, and whilst she seriously doubts her abilities are up to the task required, she acquiesces to the demanding challenge.

In the past, Anna Dale enters an art competition, this leads to her being offered the opportunity to paint an art mural for the Post Office in Edenton, North Carolina. She goes there to get a feel of the place, and whilst experiencing some Southern hospitality, she encounters hostility too. It is mainly the men that are so unwelcoming and locals who would have preferred the local artist, Martin Drapple, to have been doing the mural. They are many who are not happy with Anna's idea of painting The Tea Party, having their own ideas instead, many of which are self serving. She depicts her own controversial interpretation of The Tea Party based on her perceptions of the truth about the place. However, strangely Anna and the painting both disappear. Morgan is discouraged when she sees how much work the mural needs, but is aided by a museum's art curator. Before long she becomes consumed by the task and by Anna, wanting to do her justice. Can she solve the mystery of Anna and uncover the truth?

Chamberlain writes an emotionally engaging story, richly detailed, of a town with plenty of intrigue, secrets and lies. It is thought provoking in the serious issues it covers of art, abuse, racism, misogyny, justice, prejudice and mental health. Morgan and Anna are connected through time and art, and I became completely immersed in the challenging lives of both women. The characterisation is captivating, and both timelines are equally enthralling. This is another fantastic read from the author, and one which I recommend highly to others. Many thanks to St Martin's Press for an ARC.

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Diane Chamberlain slays as usual! Her book, Big Lies in a Small Town was so compelling and well-written, I couldn’t put it down!

Anna Dale is such an incredible character; able to overcome naysayers and a terrible incident and still come out on top. All of the twists and connections between her, Jesse, and Morgan I didn’t see coming.

Morgan’s character was so complex, I just loved her and kept rooting for her to complete the mural restoration and for her and Oliver to find love as well.

And Jesse, perhaps the unsung hero of it all. What an incredibly hard working and loyal young man. The lengths he goes to in order to help those he cares for or sees potential in was heart-warming.

5 stars, absolutely loved this book!

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This was a really great book. I love the back and forth between the different time settings in this story. The writing was great and kept you hooked. The mystery to this story was amazing and it's definitely different from books I normally read but I'm glad I did.

Thank you Netgalley, the author and publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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This book pulled me in from the beginning. With each chapter alternating between two main characters, Diane Chamberlain enticed me to read on - and on and on. 2018: Morgan Christopher, an art student who is serving time in prison for a crime she didn't commit, is released in order to restore an important painting. She’s given a tight deadline in order to meet the opening date of a gallery specified by a deceased artist in his will. 1939-40: Anna Dale, the original painter of the mural that Morgan is asked to restore, is a mystery. We learn of her endeavors to create a mural worthy of representing Edenton, North Carolina as part of the U.S. Treasury Department's Section of Fine Arts Mural Competition. As I read each chapter, I found myself feeling like a 2nd grader being told recess is over when it came to an end, but then I'd quickly find myself engaged in the next. I raced through the book but then found myself wanting to savor the story as I got closer to the end. This is a book for readers who love a good story and the characters who make it come alive.

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I’ve read more than a dozen of Diane Chamberlain’s books, enjoyed them all, but this one by far is my favorite. Well done with the back and forth in time, great job getting to know all the characters, the period, etc. It was a page turner that kept me intrigued - and guessing - until the very end. Speaking of the ending...

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This is an awesome book by an author at the top of her literary powers. I loved the back and forth between time periods and narrators as well as the topic of art. I loved the characters, both current-day and in the past. I loved the descriptions of the town, the people, and the ways of life. I loved how everything worked out in the end. Even though it was a little predictable, that was fine. A completely satisfying read.

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I must say, this book captivated me. A small town with all of its charms certainly has a flip side to it, and discovering it in the dual strands of the past and present was masterfully done. Artists and their work, southern race relations of the early 20th century and relationships of every form are accounted for. The characters are varied, interesting and real. The plot takes you back and forth between lives that all seem irrelevant to one another until they no longer are. The art and lives of these people come to life on the pages, and I simply couldn’t stop thinking about them all, even after I put the book down.

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Enjoyable read
well developed characters
very interesting story

Will definitely recommend and hand sell this title!

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This was a fascinating story told in two in the present, one from the past. Historically interesting with the Great Mural competition during the Great Depression. Anna Dale and Morgan have nothing and everything in common. A very real villain keeps this story interesting. Highly recommended

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Diane Chamberlain’s books are always five star reads! This one was endearing, touching and I learned something about art restoration. Morgan Christopher, a young art student, is in prison for a crime she did not commit. She receives an offer which will put her on parole if she agrees to restore a mural painted in 1940. This mural was painted by Anna Dale. As Morgan works on the restoration she becomes more curious about Anna and the peculiarities she is finding in the painting as she works on it. The story moves between the present time and 1940 in perfect synchronicity. It just works perfectly. The story becomes more engrossing the more you read and I loved the perfect ending.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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