Big Lies in a Small Town
— Gayle Lovvorn, Noteworthy Bookstore, Stamford, TX
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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
Praise For Big Lies in a Small Town: A Novel…
A Palm Beach Post 2020 Recommendation
“Compelling...[A] good, captivating and ultimately satisfying story.”—Greensboro News & Record
“Chamberlain is more than a terrific writer. She’s incisive and understands people.”—The Star-Ledger
“Chamberlain’s depictions of creative beauty and perseverance across time and in the face of inevitable obstacles will keep readers turning the pages.”—Publishers Weekly
“Chamberlain’s writing is reminiscent of a quilt made up of pieces from different people, places, and times, stitched together into a single, emotional story.”—Booklist
“An engaging, well-researched, and sometimes thought-provoking art mystery.”—Kirkus Reviews
“[A] great escape.”—First for Women
“[A] heart-pounding whodunit.”—Women’s World
Praise for Diane Chamberlain’s The Dream Daughter
"With a little tension and a lot of heart, The Dream Daughter will delight Chamberlain’s fans and hook new readers.” —Booklist
“Chamberlain writes with supernatural gifts...fate, destiny, chance and hope combine for a heady and breathless wonder of a read.”—Pam Jenoff, author of The Orphan’s Tale
“Can a story be both mind-bending and heartfelt? In Diane Chamberlain’s hands, it can. The Dream Daughter will hold readers in anxious suspense until the last satisfying page." —Therese Fowler, author of Z
St. Martin's Press, 9781250087331, 400pp.
Publication Date: January 14, 2020
About the Author
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. How does the prologue introduce us to the novel? What does it leave you wondering about? Did it succeed in making you want to read further?
2. The novel alternates between two timeframes and voices— did you feel drawn to the past or present narrative and characters more?
3. Both women suffered terrible and unfair hardship in their lives, can you relate to how they react to it and the choices they make?
4. In the present-day narrative, everyone speculates that Anna lost her mind, and that’s why the mural was finished the way it was. Before what happened to her was revealed, what did you suspect? Were you surprised by what did happen?
5. The novel tackles a lot of tough subject matter within the alternating story-lines. Was there one plot point that resonated with you more than the others?
6. For both of these characters, the mural and art become part of a healing process. For Anna, it is the death of her mother, and for Morgan, the accident and time in prison. Is there something similar in your life that has helped you heal from trauma and hardship?
7. As you were reading, did you expect Oliver and Morgan to fall in love? Why or why not? Do you think Oliver is good for Morgan, and vice versa?
8. How did you react to Jesse helping Anna to cover up the murder and in doing so abandoning his life? Do you agree with Anna’s decision to allow him to do so?
9. In chapter 67, Anna and Morgan’s connection is revealed, as is Jesse’s reasoning for requesting that Morgan restore the mural. Did you anticipate this connection?
10. The revelation about Judith Shipley’s true identity is a huge twist at the end of the novel. Did you suspect anything about this? Do you agree with her decision to change her identity completely and start a new life? Would you have come back all those years later?
11. Morgan spends a lot of time thinking about Emily Maxwell and how her actions impacted her life. What do you think about her decision to visit her in the end? Would you have done the same? How do you imagine that visit went?
12. What do you think the future has in store for Morgan?