Review: Why Men Lie

When we heard that we might have the opportunity to read an advanced copy of Linden MacIntyre’s new book Why Men Lie I think we actually jumped up and down for a minute or two! Thanks to Random House for forwarding us a copy and for giving us the opportunity to be one of the first to review it! How exciting!

The story of The MacAskills and the Gillises continues in this third book of MacIntyre’s Cape Breton Trilogy (which I just found out about today– I have yet to read the first book The Long Stretch). It takes place a couple of years later from where the 2009 Giller Prize winning novel, The Bishop’s Man, left off– this time from the perspective of priest Duncan MacAskill’s sister Effie. We first meet her as the brilliant professor of Celtic Studies at the University of Toronto. She comes across as a strong, self-assured and independent woman trying to make her way on her own in Ontario. But, we soon learn that she is actually running from her troubled Cape Breton past. And then there were secrets– the thing I remember most about The Bishops Man were the secrets– or at least the subtle promise of secrets that cause you to burn through the pages to find out WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED??? This one was more of the same– underlying implications and hints of past wrongs, secrets trying to pop through with every page turn. I am still not sure that everything was actually revealed in the end– only implied.

The trouble with reviewing a book that has a lot of secrets is that you don’t want to give anything away because that is half the fun of reading a book like this so here is the Goodreads synopsis: 

Why do men lie? Effie MacAskill Gillis, a self-sufficient woman of her time, is confident she knows. She learned the hard way—from a war-damaged father and a troubled brother who became a priest, through failed marriages and doomed relationships with weak and needy men. Men lie to satisfy the needs they never can articulate: for sex, for love and reassurance.

Now at middle age, she feels immunized against the damage men can do and enjoys a hard-won independence. But then a chance encounter with a man on a subway platform changes everything—an old friend looks like he, like her, has evolved into an assured and confident maturity. That he seems to have outgrown the need for telling lies is irresistible, and Effie gambles her emotional resources as she never has before. Only to learn that men must lie, and that the consequences of an unexpected lie can be disastrous.

Another day has disappeared, she thought, another piece of my existence. And I sit here waiting, in flaming apathy with Scotch and wine. The story of my life, waiting for some man to intervene. ~Effie

If you haven’t read the The Bishop’s Man you should– and read it before you read this one. While you’re at it, better read The Long Stretch too (it is the story of the Gillis and MacAskill patriarchs and their time during and after the war). As good as Why Men Lie was I am not sure it could stand on its own like Bishop’s Man did (like I said, I did not even know until today that The Long Stretch was the prequel). There are several parts in this one that I found depended on your remembering things that happened in the other 2 books (suicides, marriages, infidelities, betrayals, children, characters) and I found myself wracking my brain to remember (Hey! 2010 was a long time ago– I’ve read a lot since then!).

Overall: a page burner! 3.5 stars

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