Book Showcase/Excerpt: WHITE LIES by Susan Barrett

White Lies by Susan Barrett
Publisher:  Create Space (August 30, 2016)
Category: Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction; Contemporary Fiction; Family Saga
Tour Date: April/May, 2017
ISBN: 978-1536806847
Available in: Print & ebook,  164 Pages

White Lies

The story is told from three perspectives: that of Beth, the natural mother of Tess, Liz, the adoptive mother, and Tess herself. The reader’s sympathy is engaged with each woman in turn, as the intricacies of the plot demonstrate how nature and nurture interplay in the formation of personality.

Beth is a guest at a wedding. The bride is Tess, her natural daughter, who’d been adopted as a baby. During the moments leading up to the marriage ceremony, Beth remembers the lifetime events that have led to her present state of sick fear. Recent revelations have made her suspect that the bridegroom is the first child she’d given up for adoption, and therefore Tess’s half-brother. Will she speak of this impediment to matrimony, as invited by the priest, or forever hold her peace?

White Lies gives the answer in a way that reveals the complexities of truth-telling in the context of parenthood and adoption. An entertaining page-turner, the novel also traces the social changes in family life over the last fifty years.

Read an Excerpt:

p.80 in Part Two, Liz (the adoptive mother)

“One thing you should certainly take into account,” said Penny Williams, from the far side of her colossal desk, surrounded by piles of books, lay-out pads and colour proofs, “your life will be taken over.”

Mine won’t be, thought Liz. Penny’s saying that because she’s finding her own life difficult. Fifteen years as an artist’s agent before becoming pregnant. Holding down her job while running her home and being a good mother. She’s speaking for herself. People see the world through the prism of their own experience.

“You mustn’t think,” went on Penny, “that just because you’ve the knack of appealing to children in your work you’ll find it easy to have your own.”  

Penny leaned back in her swivel chair and – happily, proudly – related the exploits of her toddler the previous day when she’d been on duty at home, it being the Belgian au pair’s day off.

Liz and and William, by way of contrast, would be working at home, sharing childcare. They’d take it in turns to be the one on duty. They would draw strict demarcation lines around their respective work areas. William’s carpentry room with all its terrifyingly sharp tools would be out of bounds as would her small studio full of spillable paints and coloured inks. The baby-to-be would lie in the sun on the terrace and when it was old enough, it would swim in the sea. A water-baby.  

One of the scenes Liz liked to conjure up featured the child – boy or girl, as yet unchosen – sitting on her lap, listening to her trying out a new story. With her arms around the child, she also held a sketch pad. In her imagination, she could smell the shampoo in the child’s hair. The child held a big fat blue – or green or red, it varied – felt tip pen and made wild marks on the pad. A creative environment, it would be, back on the island.

“There’ll be lots of village women,” she told Penny. “They’ll be only too happy to whisk the baby away. Greeks worship children.”

Penny let a humph sound emerge from the back of her throat. “So you’re going back?”

“Of course. As soon as the adoption’s through. Five months or so from the time we get the baby.”

“Well, I don’t know,” said Penny. “It seems to me –” She paused before going on. “It seems to me that you’re lucky to have the choice. Unlike most of us, you can actually make a rational, considered decision to burden yourselves – or stay free.”


“For you it’s not a natural happening,” went on Penny. “For us poor mutts, we can have children so we are expected to. Almost duty bound. We have our mothers breathing down our necks, longing to be grannies, trying not to ask when we plan to stop work and have endless babies. You can’t imagine the grief I had from Paul’s Mum.” Penny put on a different voice to imitate her mother-in-law. “There’s poor old Mrs So-and-so living on her own, never had children, no one comes to visit her, she hasn’t a soul in the world who’d be notified if she dropped dead one day in her own front room. Wouldn’t be found for weeks.  It’s such a comfort to me,” said Penny still being mother-in-law, “to know you and Paul are so close. You do so much for me. It’s such a blessing to have children, I can tell you, at my age when you’re widowed and poorly.” She changed back into being Penny. “It actually takes quite a brave person to say they don’t want children.”  

Liz wondered if Penny had been the brave person she had in mind, who had succumbed at last. “Do you regret it then?”

“No. You can’t regret it once it’s happened. Now.” Becoming efficient.  “Where are you with D, the D.B.P?”


Praise for White Lies by Susan Barrett

“A beautifully written study of motherhood, loss and what makes us who we are. The characters are deftly drawn and the writer clearly knows her subject. The narrative is expertly woven and fast-paced, delivering pain and joy blow by blow. Sharp and incisive, heartbreaking and so relevant to today.”-Vanessa de Haan

“A beautifully written, sensitive, yet amusing, and intriguing, tale around a subject that is rarely covered in literature. A delight to read.”- Amazon Customer

“This is a gripping read. It is not only relevant to those who have been involved in adoption but to all of us. It raises questions about families, about the fragility and power of maternal bonds, about love and disappointment. It charts with particular accuracy the difficulties of the tangled web of secrecy and complication that was characteristic of adoption in the mid-twentieth century. It keeps you guessing to the very end!”-Sally Woods

“I’m looking forward to seeing how the book group I belong to find this. I was quickly gripped by it, feeling for the central characters, all of them very real. I partly wanted to read slowly to enjoy it, confident there would be a satisfying, unfolding, but partly wanted to race to find out what happened. Will enjoy reading it again.”-Amazon Customer

About Susan Barrett

Born in Plymouth, Devon in 1938, Susan Barrett began writing fiction in the 1960s while living on a Greek island. Her first novel was published by Michael Joseph in 1969. Film rights were sold and renewed over several years. She went on to write six more novels which were published with mainstream publishers in hardback and paperback in UK and USA. A book on Greece’s landscapes, flora and fauna, illustrated in watercolours by her artist husband Peter Barrett, was published by Harrap Columbus in 1986. They have also produced many children’s books together, published in the US. In the 1990s she trained in humanistic counselling and gestalt psychotherapy and has practised as a counsellor for the last twenty years. Her latest two novels and a work of non-fiction are available as ebooks and in paperback editions.

Twitter @SusanBarrett192

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Giveaway White Lies by Susan Barrett

This giveaway is for 2 print copies and 6 ebook copies of White Lies, for a total of 8 winners. The print giveaway is open to Canada, UK, and the U.S. only, however, ebook is open worldwide. This giveaway ends on June 1, 2017 at midnight pacific time. Entries are accepted via Rafflecopter only.

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