None Of This Is True is a novel by the amazing Lisa Jewell. And she has really done it again. I bought this book after reading a small excerpt and was amazed simply by the format. Before I dive in, I just want to say that this is a book discussion so there may be a few light spoilers in the later paragraphs so please continue at your own risk.
This novel centers on two women, Alix and Josie, both born on the same day and in the same hospital but living two very different lives. Alix is married to a wealthy man, has two young children, lives in a nice home and has her own podcast and studio. Josie is married to a retired man, both of her children are out of the home and she makes ends meet by working in an alterations shop. Alix wears designer clothes while Josie only seems to wear denim. Alix has tons of friends and loving family where Josie seems to have closed herself off from everyone around her. But when they meet on their birthday, it begins a series of events that changes their lives and the world around them for ever.
Josie convinces Alix to begin a podcast about her, about her breaking free from her life as she is still in the process. It will be similar to Alix's earlier podcasts but altogether different as Josie still lives under the thumb of an oppressive husband and a narcisstic and cruel mother, not to mention evil children. At least, this is the way that Josie portrays it to be to Alix. With each session in Alix's studio, something in her home goes missing. Alix chalks it up to being scatterbrained but her husband feels as though something more is going on. Nathan doesn't like the odd denim-wearing woman in their home carrying around her mutt pomski. And Josie doesn't like him either. She can't see why Alix, a woman of her caliber, of her beauty would want to be with him. He isn't handsome. He drinks and stays out all night, even when he has children at home. In Josie's mind, he isn't worthy of Alix, just like Walter (Josie's own husband) isn't worthy of her. Too bad Alix can't see that.
Alix just wants to help out another woman, a woman who seems to be dealing with a lot. After all Josie had been with a middle-aged man when she was only 15, married him, had two children by him and they both have their own issues. Josie is dealing with a lot and it will be nice to help her break free...plus Alix's own problems pale in comparison. So what if Nathan drinks like he is still in college? He makes it to work, he always apologizes and he loves his family. He's a good provider and she loves him. Her son may play a lot of games but neither of her children are violent, she doesn't have to worry about their wellbeing. Making this podcast is doing her some good.
I want to point out that one of my favorite aspects of this novel was the structure of it. I enjoyed how we see snippets of the podcast, bits and pieces of interviews that take place later than the narrative so that the reader is always left wondering what is really going on and who to believe. The idea of that was also just fun to me, and as a writer, I have many questions and thoughts that I won't get into here. Anyway, when we began getting at the heart of the matter, after Josie leaves Alix's home for the last time, after the truth is revealed of what really happened that Friday night and when people who've known the Fairs far longer than the weeks that Alix and her husband have come into the spotlight, those interviews, those bits of the Netflix show, those recordings make a world of difference.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and got through it quite quickly, within the span of a few hours. I appreciate how the author chose to make us doubt everything, even up to the end of the novel. You really have to come up with your own decision regarding if you believe what Josie Fair has said, what her daughters said or some variation of the two. Perhaps all of them are living in fantasy worlds of their own design in which they all can do no wrong, in which they are all the protagonists. Lisa Jewell really hits that point hard but it isn't done in a way that is hard to believe at all. In fact, it is quite easy to imagine that these are real people living in our current times and that Josie Fair may be that woman sitting next to you on the bus stop, no longer in denim but in a nice blouse and hat.
If I had to give a reason for why I did not give this a total of five stars is that there were some areas, some bits and pieces that were a bit too cringe-y. As we know, readers come to expect tropes every now and again, however, Jewell gives us a couple too many. Or perhaps, they are simply the ones that I have seen over and over again in the thriller and suspense genre and so they merit an eye roll or shoulder shrug but not much more in terms of emotional response, which is obviously not what the author intends in this genre. I do want to say though, that the characterization and how the author built up not only Alix and Josie but even the more minor characters was fantastic and that alone is worth a lot of credit.
Do you enjoy reading thrillers? If so, are the ones that have you on the edge of your seat your favorite? Or do you like to be kept wondering, guessing, waiting for the trainwreck to inevitably happen? Either way, if you like a good thriller, None Of This Is True, may be the book for you. Are there any books that you think I should read next?