The Lie (reading-as-a-writer 13)

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The Lie by Helen Dunmore (2014) is up there on my list of Top 20 #WW1 books (and that is not a place easily gained). Accolades abound elsewhere so I won’t reiterate; suffice to say it’s a book to which I will return. Three Gifts for the writer-reader: (1) A masterclass in first person, present tense narrative. (2) Another masterclass – in building tension and gradual reveal. (3) Vivid, accurate period and historical detail. And because The Lie is such a strong exemplar for a writer of historical fiction, I looked a little closer and identified three more useful techniques: Foreshadowing: The seeds of Dan’s destruction are sewn in the early part of the book, and reiterated with a memory from his childhood. Ambiguity: Is there something more to the old woman’s death? What is the significance of the revolver and bayonet references – and the dog scene? What exactly happened to Felicia? And is Frederick a ghost or hallucination? (And, no, it doesn’t matter!) Narrative voice: Impeccable match between character and his world view, all nicely constrained by the tight frame of his surroundings and experience. #amreading

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About Hannah

Author of literary historical fiction set in the First World War. Revising my first book, writing the next, seeking representation. Mountaineer, gardener, traveller, off-road runner. Africa, modern history, coffee, roses, films, book and unrealistic romance. NHS midwife in a former life.
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