With the December break coming up, many bookworms are looking forward to lazy days spent absorbed in a nice, fat book. Newly released Where The Truth Lies by St Francis Bay author Susan Rae Fox offers exactly that kind of escape. Follow the engrossing tale of a devastated family fleeing from their grief, who escape to a foreboding, gloomy old mansion in Paarl, left to decay to a shell of its former glory. As the family members uncover hints of the rich and tragic history of the house, they all individually confront the darkness in their own pasts.
Newly widowed William throws himself into restoring the old manor in a determined attempt to distract himself from the loss of his beloved wife Lily. His attempts to restore the once-grand house to its former beauty and hide the rot and decay that have set in, mirror his desperate attempts to hide the misdeeds and misery of his own past. His frantic attempts to beautify the house give a glimpse of the sad desperation behind his single-minded belief that if he can fix the house, he will truly be able to start anew and leave the rot behind – however, some rot runs deeper than surface level.
Lily’s identical twin sister Frith despises the house and resents the new life she has been thrust into. Like the old mansion itself, she too once had a rich and colourful life, and she sees the person she has become as a shadow of her former self. Driven by the oath she made to Lily on her deathbed to take care of William and Plum, Lily’s daughter, she attempts to settle into her new role. Struggling to relate to young Plum and carve out an identity of her own in this new place, Lily is forced to reflect on who she is and the importance of the things that matter to her, as well as come to terms with a few hard truths about herself and the life she left behind.
Eleven-year-old Plum escapes into her imagination, which has always been overactive, but which now goes into overdrive in the lonely old house. Upon finding a century-old diary of the manor’s former occupant, Plum spirals into an obsession with the diary and its author. It begins to consume Plum’s every waking thought, and she starts to believe that the diary’s author is a spirit inhabiting the manor. The diary traces the life of Charlotte Butler, once so optimistic about her life as the lady of the manor and the wife of a Captain of the British Imperial Yeomanry. As Plum reads on, Charlotte’s later entries slowly begin to describe the agony of her marriage to a cruel man, and her helplessness at being trapped in the glorious mansion – a life that from the outside looks perfect, but that is hiding deep pain just out of sight.
Characters past and present seem to be on a collision course to disaster as they all spiral out of control in their own personal turmoil. The narrative interweaves between history and present day to explore the twisted dynamics of a family that is brought closer by sorrow and hope, even while the individuals are being torn apart by grief and regret. This moody family saga captures the characters’ despair and denial perfectly as they hold out hope of a new beginning, while being haunted by the demons of the past.
Get your copy of Where The Truth Lies from Publisher.co.za today.