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The Lie Tree Paperback – Unabridged, 1 May 2015
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- ASIN : 144726410X
- Publisher : Macmillan Children's Books; Unabridged ed edition (1 May 2015)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 400 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781447264101
- ISBN-13 : 978-1447264101
- Reading age : 1 year and up
- Dimensions : 13 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 289,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
The Lie Tree is a wonder. I can't think of anyone who would not love this story. -- Matt Haig
I loved this book so much. -- Lucy Mangan
Complex and intelligent: a lustrous, delicious romp. -- Philip Womack ― The Telegraph
From the Publisher
- Winner of the Costa Book Award
- The Sunday Times Children’s Book of the Year
- Nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal
- Shortlisted for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize
- Shortlisted for the Independent Bookseller's Week Award (Children’s)
The Lie Tree
*Winner of the Costa Book Award 2015
Frances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree is the winner of the prestigious Costa Book Award – and it is only the second time in the prize's history, that a children's novel has been named Costa Book of the Year. The previous children's novel to win was Philip Pullman's The Amber Spyglass in 2002.
On receiving the award Hardinge said:
'For those people who might be hearing this who think that children's and YA fiction is not their thing please do come and explore - there's a beautiful jungle out there'
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It didn't take too many chapters for me to get sucked into this narrative and fall in love with Faith, our protagonist. This young teenage girl lives in misogynistic Victorian England where, as a girl, she is not expected to thirst for knowledge. Faith is somewhat neglected by her mother, ignored by her father and nursemaid to her younger brother. But she is a feisty, loveable character, whose constant eavesdropping just made her even more endearing to me.
The novel opens with the family being uprooted from their home in Kent to the small island of Vale, with the journey littered with hints that her father's lost reputation is to blame. It isn't long before the family become outcasts, and whilst I felt for Faith, it was quite satisfying to see her obnoxious mother mistreated.
Faith's world is then turned upside down when her father is found dead (this isn't a spoiler, it's included in the book's blurb). Despite a tumultuous relationship with him, she is intent on uncovering the truth behind his death. Hardinge presents the reader with a resilient protagonist, refreshing for the book's Victorian setting, and after rifling through her father's notebooks she learns of a mysterious tree that could help her do just that. Faith begins a mission of spreading lies in order to learn the secrets from the tree. In all honesty, the book was not what I expected at all. I suppose with mention of a 'strange tree', I anticipated a book with a slight fantasy feel, but there is none of that. If anything, I found myself simlpy believing the tree was real.
The description of the lie tree is beautiful, as is Hardinge's writing throughout the novel. She has an almost lyrical quality to her writing that just makes the story flow. It's easy to understand why this novel has proven popular with both teens and adults and why it's both won and been nominated for awards.
Hardinge explores an impressive number of issues in this well-woven story; from the tussle between good and evil, the class disparity and the place of intelligent and underrated women in Victorian society, capricious human nature, the supernatural and the limits of science, to the contradictory virtue and oppression of familial loyalty. Faith is forced to go through a rite of passage into early adulthood suddenly when tragedy befalls her family and she finds herself battling forces bigger than she could ever grapple with on her own, and finds out that things and people aren’t always what they appear to be. She finds a sinister ally that is organic, non-human, and possibly phantasmagorical, stumbling across deadly secrets that threaten her psychologically, morally and mortally.
Hardinge has created a world that is both familiar and strange at the same time, while enriching the genre of children’s fantasy.
As a woman in STEM it was entirely within my nature to feel sympathetic to Faith as she desperately wanted to show her father and other scientists that she is bright and capable in the sciences, but was constantly either ignored or harshly rebuffed by a society that expects its girls to be pretty, pious and humble to the point of invisibility. Her frustration burned strongly with recognition for me.
The mystery of why Faith's family has arrived on the small island of Vane and then the even deeper mystery of what happens to her father whilst they are there was clever and engrossing. The very fact that some significant clues were overlooked for the same reason Faith rails at herself being overlooked was a bittersweet irony.
Wrapped around all of this was the suffocating nature of Victorian society and family values; how everyone is expected to behave all the time, the women especially. It added a luscious extra layer of antagonism to the Sunderly family's experiences.
Can't recommend it highly enough.
A recipe for a confusing mess of a book, surely? But Frances Hardinge has pulled off a marvel of a novel, subtly layered, cleverly counterpointed and full of delicate oppositions (male vs. female, science vs. mysticism, the appearance of propriety vs. the harshness of reality) that underline how easy it is for lies to propagate and distort truth. On top of that it's a cleverly-plotted thriller with fairytale undertones, and Faith Sunderly is a winning central character seduced by lies but eventually fighting through them to an uneasy but hopeful truth.
The author's lightness of touch in bringing these disparate elements together is genuinely astonishing. 'The Lie Tree' has the feel of a YA novel but its truths are ones that all adults need to appreciate in these weird modern times.
The storyline begins well enough with a young daughter of a clergy is sent to live an isolated existence in a remote area. Several leads present themselves as potential trouble spots early on, but are missed later in the body and conclusion of the story. Ok red herrings then.
So characters eventually disgrace themselves and prove to be thoroughly immoral. Yes you are hoodwinked into who the culprits really are and brought to realise how dangerously competitive the fossil hunting world has previously been. That all said, moral tales are divided here, so this book is not for the younger readers without a reading group, who could discuss the included issues. Pity could be drawn for one character, until you later realise upon reading the conclusive passages, that the entire story has been a large scale deceit, bringing the entire series of events full circle. Cleverly written with early misleading the reader with full understanding gained only when you close the end page.
I am not sure about recommending this as a younger read as discussion is needed to clarify events and motives within the story. What was particularly hard with the crop of books in the Carnegie list was the persistent theme of lies and untruths, but then, this could be an underlying necessity within current children's literature.