Fleeing from scandal, Faith’s scientist father moves the family to a remote island where there is still work for him. His behaviour becomes more and more troubling to Faith until the day he is found dead. Whilst most assume suicide, Faith is convinced her father was murdered and her investigation leads her to an unusual specimen; a tree which feeds on lies.
Women and girls were so often unseen, forgotten, afterthoughts. Faith herself had used it to good effect, hiding in plain sight and living a double life.
I’m honestly a bit hesitant about reviewing The Lie Tree because so many people have been raving about it, people whose opinions I value, not just award panels, and it just didn’t hit the spot for me.
In premise, it sounded great. I love reading about the Victorian fossil hunters and especially around the injustice of the female scientists who were never given the credit in their lifetime. Faith is a girl who wishes she could follow in her father’s footsteps, but her mind is considered too small and delicate to do science, despite the evidence to the contrary. She’s female, so she can’t possible do anything other than marry and oversee a household. If she’s lucky.
The idea that Victorian women were overlooked is central to the whole plot. Faith isn’t to be suspected of anything because of her gender. And Faith is just as guilty of underestimating women too.
I’m not the biggest fan of main characters who lie. It’s quite obvious I should have thought about this going in, because of the title and the blurb and all that, but mostly I was going by recommendations. The plant must be fed lies to grow, the further reaching the lie the better, so Faith feeds it. And I couldn’t warm to her, I didn’t feel any regret that her father was dead, she seemed better off without him.
People were animals, and animals were nothing but teeth. You bit first, and you bit often. That was the only way to survive.
The behaviour of the locals towards a grieving family was awful. Honestly, I liked Faith’s mother much more than I probably should have. She is just as a much a prisoner of her gender as Faith is.
I can highly recommend Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier if you’re interested in reading a fictionalised account of the lives of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, the women responsible for many important fossil finds.
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