Diane Chamberlain is a prolific bestselling author. In the UK alone she has sold 750,000 books. Yet for some reason I have never read any of her other books (so many books, so little time!) The Midwife's Confession was a runaway success and a favourite with reading groups, and although I have been meaning to prioritise reading it, life has got in the way. When I was sent a proof copy of Necessary Lies to review I was very excited. Here was my chance to read some of Diane Chamberlain's work and see what the fuss was about!
Necessary Lies tells the story of Jane, a young newly-wed employed as a social worker in rural North Carolina in the 1960s. Wet behind the ears but with her heart in the right place, Jane finds it hard to keep a professional distance from the disadvantaged families she works with. Encouraged by her employers to put forward young women for uninformed sterilisation as part of a eugenics programme, Jane faces a constant battle between her own beliefs and what is expected of her. Should everyone have the right to have children? Or are only some people capable of parenting competently?
It took me a while to get into Necessary Lies, but I once I got to grips with the characters and their back stories I was hooked. Diane Chamberlain has written a thought-provoking and emotive tale based on fact. It is hard to believe that eugenic sterilisation was still being practiced in North Carolina as recently as 1974. I was left with a tear in my eye and a heavy heart as I read the final few pages.
Chamberlain has been widely compared to Jodi Picoult, and it is true that both authors write books that debate highly topical issues and are character driven. I found Jane easy to relate to- a young woman struggling to maintain a work/life balance, torn between her duty and her beliefs- and as a protagonist I thought Jane was believable and likeable.
Well worth a read.
Necessary Lies is out now, published by Pan Macmillan.
With thanks to Pan Macmillan for providing me with a proof copy of Necessary Lies.
Diane Chamberlain's website can be found at http://dianechamberlain.com/ .