Sunday, 25 August 2013

Books Read: Diane Chamberlain - Necessary Lies

North Carolina, 1960. Newlywed Jane Forrester, fresh out of university, is seeking what most other women have shunned: a career.

But life as a social worker is far from what she expected. Out amongst the rural Tobacco fields of Grace County, Jane encounters a world of extreme poverty that is far removed from the middle-class life she has grown up with.

But worse is still to come. Working with the Hart family and their fifteen-year-old daughter Ivy, it’s not long before Jane uncovers a shocking secret, and is thrust into a moral dilemma that puts her career on the line, threatens to dissolve her marriage, and ultimately, determines the fate of Ivy and her family forever.

Soon Jane is forced to take drastic action, and before long, there is no turning back.

Diane Chamberlain's latest novel, Necessary Lies, is set in North Carolina in the 1960s and tells the story of a young rookie social worker Jane starting out on her career and the dilemmas that she soon has to face.

Newlywed Jane has always wanted to be a social worker but her husband Robert, an eminent doctor, would prefer it if she didn't go out to work at all, so he's less than happy when she lands her first job in rural Grace County.

One of the first cases that she ends up taking on on her own is that of 15-year-old Ivy who lives with her elder sister Mary Ella, baby nephew William and her sick grandmother Nonnie in a workers cottage on a tobacco farm.  Whilst getting to know the family she discovers deep hidden secrets that shock her to the core and she soon finds herself put in a position that she's not really comfortable with.  But can she really go against the wishes of her superiors for the benefit of her client, and if so, at what cost to her career?

Diane Chamberlain has once again written a controversial story with strong believable characters that you find yourself rooting for.  Jane is a woman who was clearly ahead of her time who genuinely cared for the good of her charges, and I was definitely hoping that she would make the right decision in the end, and Ivy a sweet adorable albeit naive girl that you can't help but like.

Now one of the things that really got to me was that the premise of the story, which I can't go into without giving away spoilers, was a real program that existed in certain states right up to the 1970s and that these decisions were made for health or social/economic reasons, sometimes without people comprehending what was actually being done.

This book would be perfect for a book club as would certainly lead to lively discussions afterwards.  I'd like to thank Becky at Pan Macmillan for sending me a proof copy of Necessary Lies to review.

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