The Monday Book: THE COMFORT OF LIES by Randy Susan Myers

This book was in a “Free books” bin at Asheville Public Library. I’d liked her earlier book The Murderer’s Daughters so snagged it. This one is bigger in its character list and plot maneuvers, but like her others, character drives plot. Which is cool.

The two couples and the birth mom/floater in this book are really well drawn. You know them. And you can kind of guess what they’re going to do, but reading how they do it goes from heartbreaking to yelling at the pages “NO DON’T” to laughing because it’s just so funny, what they say as they screw up their own lives.

Dark comedy, or the comedy of human errors, maybe. The premise is that married man Nathan has an affair with Tia, then goes back to his wife. Tia adopts out the resultant daughter, but Nathan’s wife finds out when she opens a letter addressed to her husband. And then finds the adoptive parents, and it just goes kablooey from there. This is a finely chiseled portrait of marriages falling apart and people making choices based on very real issues, some of them rather like watching a train wreck in slow motion.

If you like the genre of fiction Brits call “aga saga,” literate portraits of families and people teetering at the edge of crisis, you’ll love The Comfort of Lies.

The Monday Book: THE MURDERER’S DAUGHTERS by Randy Susan Meyers

daughtersThis book came into the bookstore randomly this past fall, and one night in a lighthearted “what will I read next” ramble, I pulled it from the bookshelf …

… and lost my weekend. Murder’s Daughters is one of those “don’t get up” books where your life partner is going to need to bring you sandwiches. (S/he will if you promise to do the same when it’s his or her turn to read the book.) The plot moves pretty quickly for being as psychology-driven as it is, something I really enjoyed. I like analytical books, but they can drag. This one did not. What’s going to happen next was always on my mind as I carried it into the bathroom, read it at the kitchen table, ignored customers in the bookstore the first time they said hello.

The premise is straightforward: a man loses control and kills his wife, but the only reason he’s able to is that one of his two daughters–a mere child–opens the door for him. Everything else in the dysfunction junction tale that follows stems from that moment. And there are some lovely human psychology moments. How the girls get out of the children’s home they get stuck in –because their blood family doesn’t step up to the plate–is so compelling and so true to humanity that I cried.

The ways in which the two girls so differently handle their subsequent relationship with their father is interesting, but more compelling to me was the depiction of their growing up years in a group home, and how they related to each other by in turns being maternal and manipulative. The girls are well-drawn characters. Great characters drive great plots.

Meyers puts the synopsis of the book well on her website ( “The Murderer’s Daughters is narrated in turn by Merry and Lulu [the daughters]. The book follows the sisters as children, as young women, and as adults, always asking how far forgiveness can stretch, while exploring sibling loyalty, the aftermath of family violence, and the reality of redemption.”

BTW Meyers has links to buy the book on her site. I know y’all will first explore ordering it from your local bookstore, then if needed buy from her Powell’s link; Powell’s is a cool bookstore with excellent business ethics.

On her website you’ll also find links to her new book, The Comfort of Lies. If the characters are as well-drawn as Merry and Lulu, it will be a great read. Clear a weekend.