Book Review: Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

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Rating: ★★★★
RRP Paperback: $29.99 AUD

A huge thank you to the wonderful people at Pan Macmillan Publishing for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads synopsis:

North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, 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 desperate for 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?

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This book really took me by surprise! Having been sent this book by Pan Macmillan, it wasn’t the kind of book I would normally pick up! But I am honestly so glad I did! It was really emotional and woven together so perfectly. It honestly felt like watching a painting come together.

Big Lies in a Small Town is told from two separate perspectives. One is that of Anna Dale, an ambitious young female artist in the 1940’s who, having won a competition, is chosen to create a mural that will hang in the post office of a small town in North Carolina. The other is that of Morgan Christopher, a woman serving time for a crime she did not commit, who is given a life altering opportunity to be released from prison early in exchange for restoring an old mural.

I really fell in love with how this story was told. it flowed so well from one perspective to the next and had this really beautiful way of making you slowly fall in love with these characters. The diversity of the supporting characters was amazing, the way the author delved into mental health and trauma was done incredibly well and I really enjoyed the history that was woven throughout the novel. I also really appreciated that we got two strong leading ladies in this book!

The plot itself was amazing. I want to say it’s almost a little bit of a “slow burn” in terms of pacing! It takes its time getting to know the ins and outs of the characters and unveils each plot point in a really intricate and interesting way. There were times I felt heartbroken, times I was genuinely shocked and times that I was in awe! A couple of the plot points I did find the tiniest bit predictable, but others were so intricate and surprising that it made for a really interesting read.

An emotional and perfectly painted mural of a book, that I highly recommend picking up. 4 stars!