The White Lie

by Andrea Gillies

  • Published: 05 Jul 2012
  • Price: £7.99
  • Format: Paperback
  • Format: Ebook
  • Extent: 320p
  • ISBN: 978-1-78072-039-5
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  • Buy it now from Waterstones

A stunning debut novel from the winner of the Orwell Prize 2010 and the inaugural Wellcome Trust Book Prize 2009

On a hot summer’s afternoon, Ursula Salter runs sobbing from the loch on her parents’ Scottish estate and confesses, distraught, that she has killed Michael, her 19 year old nephew.

But what really happened? No body can be found, and Ursula’s story is full of contradictions. In order to protect her, the Salters come up with another version of events, a decision that some of them will come to regret.

Years later, at a family gathering, a witness speaks up and the web of deceit begins to unravel.  What is the white lie? Only one person knows the whole truth. Narrating from beyond the grave, Michael takes us to key moments in the past, looping back and back until – finally – we see what he sees.

“Gillies writes magnificently on everything she touches.” – Sunday TimesTop 100 Summer Reads”Absolutely searing… we have a major new talent in our midst.” – Daily Express“A really terrific read… Elegant, well written, genuinely gripping.” – Joanne Harris”This immersive story is… a page-turner. It is also, finally, very moving.” – Francine Stock, Guardian“There’s an echo of Virginia Woolf that lifts Gillies work above the average family drama… This is an unusual, unsettling, often lovely story that plubs the depths of what family means. It is a fine debut novel.” – The Scotsman

“Gillies excels in her portrait of a landscape that consumes the merely human, and slowly over many generations has created a family in its own image.” – Helen Dunmore

“Gillies beautifully crafted debut combines page-turning aplomb with psychological insight… She is a tantalising storyteller, dropping in clues, vertiginous surprises and unexpected revelations.” – Marie Claire

“Gillies writes with elegance… bringing the closed world of the big house to life with cinematic clarity, the guilt-ridden residents as distressed as the threadbare furniture. A gripping exploration of the stories families tell about themselves, myths sometimes more potent than the truth.” – Financial Times

“**** Gillies handles her large cast and clashing versions of events with a precision that makes reading this imaginative novel a fascinating process of discovery.” – Metro

“The prose is elegant and beautiful, and Gillies has a skill for creating both character and a sense of place; Peattie is so vividly described that I had no trouble imagining the crumbling interior or the sun-baked loch. I couldn t put The White Lie down.” – For Book’s Sake

“Gillies excels both at describing the landscape and at delineating those subcutaneous secrets and shared assumptions that bind families together.” – Literary Review

“Fizzing with energy, suspense, and tense dialogue, this is an elegantly brilliant novel.” – Red Magazine

“Gillies’s descriptions are precise, particularly of gardens, food and clothes, and often wry. Gillies relishes the absurdities of dialogue… the slow torture of barely enunciated rivalries and feuds keeps the Salters at odds in a particularly cruel, snd and funny northern European way.” – Guardian

“Andrea Gillies, winnder of the 2009 Wellcome Trust Book Prize and the Orwell Prize for 2010, writes in The White Lie as if she herself lived in Peattie House, as if she draped the dust sheets in the rooms of the dead. As frustratingly obtuse and uncommunicative as many of the Salters are, the author encourages our understanding by artfully teasing out hurts, coping mechanisms and shortcomings many would recognize.” – Book of the Month, The Scots Magazine

“An intricate, well-observed novel of secrets and guilt.” – Woman and Home

“By the time I was half way through the book I was returning to it at every spare moment to find out what happened and it really wasn’t what I was expecting…” – Bookbag

“A wonderfully compelling portrait of a family haunted by secrets and lies… pitch perfect on the chilling, devastating consequences of guilt.” – Sally Brampton

“A truly gripping read.”- Emily Rhodes, Fiction Uncovered

About Andrea Gillies

Andrea Gillies has had a diverse career, encompassing writing, publicity work, travel and reference book editing, and writing a drinks column for Scotland on Sunday newspaper.