A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to go to a fantastic event Oceans of Words at Waterstones in Nottingham and you can read about that here. When I was there I met Ruth Dugdall and invited her on to Linda’s Book Bag. I’m delighted that Ruth agreed to be interviewed and she will be joining me on 1st May 2017 when her latest novel My Sister and Other Liars will be published. Ruth very kindly gave me a copy of My Sister and Other Liars for review.
My Sister and Other Liars is published on 1st May 2017 by Thomas and Mercer and is available for pre-order here.
My Sister and Other Liars
Sam is seventeen, starving herself and longing for oblivion. Her sister, Jena, is mentally scarred and desperate to remember. Between them, they share secrets too terrible to recall.
Eighteen months earlier, Sam was still full of hope: hope that she could piece together Jena’s fragmented memory after the vicious attack that changed their family forever. But digging into the past unearthed long-hidden lies and betrayals, and left Sam feeling helpless and alone in a world designed to deceive her.
Now, in a last bid to save her from self-imposed shutdown, Sam’s therapist is helping her confront her memories. But the road to recovery is a dangerous one. Because Sam has not only been lying to her doctors: she’s been hiding dark secrets from herself.
My Review of My Sister and Other Liars
On the Ana ward, anorexic Sam has no real reason to live, but as she slips toward the point of no return, memories come to the surface that can change her life.
Ooh, My Sister and Other Liars is a cracking read. It took me a while to appreciate just why the setting of a ward for anorexic girls had been chosen, but that is all part of the intelligent way the plot is constructed. Ruth Dugdall is forcing the reader to confront uncomfortable truths along with those, both girls and staff, on the ward. She explores so effectively how and why the girls there have made the decision to starve and it doesn’t always make for comfortable reading. In fact, it was the uncovering of this world about which I knew very little that made My Sister and Other Liars such a compelling read for me. I think Ruth Dugdall must have been meticulous in her research. I can’t really mention all the themes without spoiling the read but they build to create a read that goes beyond being merely an entertaining narrative into providing intelligent considerations.
I thought the plot was extremely good. I did work out the denouement, but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment at all because the writing builds tension and there is no guarantee that Sam will uncover the truth she so craves and which is destroying her physically and emotionally. I found the atmosphere created was often claustrophobic and frequently brutal and I kept wanting to read just one more chapter so see what happened.
At the beginning I found Sam an unlikable character and she didn’t gain my empathy even though she had my sympathy. It took me a while to warm to her, but again it was the quality of the writing that drew me in and altered my perceptions until I was completely on her side.
A further aspect that deserves mention is the skilful way in which Ruth Dugdall creates a sense of place. I could picture the town, the ward, the Pleasure Park so clearly and yet the effect was subtle too so that it never felt contrived. I thought that aspect of the writing was so good.
I wouldn’t say I necessarily enjoyed reading My Sister and Other Liars, because of the disturbing nature of some of the themes and events, but I found it irresistible. It’s a really good thriller that I can recommend completely.
About Ruth Dugdall
Ruth studied English at university and then took an MA is Social Work. Following this she worked in the Criminal Justice System as a social worker then as a probation officer. Part of this time was spent seconded to a prison housing serious offenders. She continues to work within the Criminal Justice System, most recently in Luxembourg.
Ruth’s novels are informed by her experience and are “authentic and credible”.