Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

what i saw This is not my usual fare at all being slightly allergic to anything remotely historical but I was drawn to the red lipstick on the cover and once I began reading I was a gonner.

Set on post-war America, in the late 1940’s, the setting is vivid and gorgeously realised.  I was completely sucked in by the almost film-noir atmosphere.  The main character is fifteen year old Evie who is desperate to break out of the shadow of her blonde bombshell mother.  A spur of the moment decision by her step-father, Joe, sees them hot foot it to an almost empty hotel in Palm Beach for the summer. Here Evie meets Peter, and falls hopelessly under his spell.  But all is not what it seems and beneath the warmth of the Florida sun something nasty is brewing.

This is a really simple tale, but the one thing that stands out more than anything here is the voice of the main character, Evie.  She picks you up on the first page and you are compelled to listen to her right to the end.  I was captivated. The language is appropriate to the era and adds so much to the atmosphere of the novel. Being a coming of age novel, Evie begins as a somewhat naive girl interested in pretend smoking and wearing heels. The way her voice changes as the novel progresses is outstanding, conveying the darkness and trauma she is experiencing as things go wrong and she is forced to grow up.

I’m not going to reveal the storyline because it would really spoil the unspooling mystery of this book.  There are so many levels to the hints and pointers in the text that all is not right, some Evie isn’t wholly aware of (and some I totally missed!).  And once the questions are asked you’re turning pages like a madman to find the answers.  One of the main themes is anti-Semitism and in a world post Second World War this is extremely well placed and very subtly conveyed.

I was completely captivated by What I Saw and How I Lied and raved about it to all my customers.  In a shop bulging with vampire novels, to find a 1940’s mystery was like a breath of fresh air.  So… what did Evie see?  And how did she lie?  I can bet you’re desperate to find out.

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell.  ISBN: 9781407114958.

About Eve Harvey

Eve Harvey is a bookaholic. She is forever to be found with her nose in a book. If there are none around then newspapers, magazines, the back of cereal packets, road signs or the tiny washing labels found on the seams of jumpers will do. Eve used to have full time job as a children's bookseller and she was the very first Waterstone's Children's Expert Bookseller in Scotland. Her first love was definitely literature for children and teens, about which she has nerd-level knowledge. However she has since become involved in grown-up books and has co-written her first adult novel with Cath Murphy. Eve and Cath Podcast, blog and have far too much fun on their website Domestic Hell. Eve lives in a field just outside Edinburgh in Scotland with her daughter and son and two dogs and two rabbits. She also has some tanks of tropical fish and vows one day to start up a marine aquarium. And the day she signs her very first publishing deal she is going to celebrate by buying a pair of Horsefields tortoises. You can find Eve through her Agent, Ella Kahn at DKW Literary Agency. She's also on Twitter or on her website :

9 comments on “What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

  1. annebrooke
    November 21, 2009

    Now this sound fabulous!! And that cover is outstandingly good too!



  2. Eve
    November 21, 2009

    Oh it is Anne, and the cover is awesome. Mine has a removable outer cover with a gorgeous picture of Evie’s mother inside – very forties hair with pearls and luscious red lips… wow!

  3. annebrooke
    November 21, 2009

    Heck, even more amazing – this is so definitely on my list now!!!


  4. Jackie
    November 22, 2009

    Here you go teasing us, I want to know more. That’s an interesting era anyways & it’s a good move to set a female coming of age novel then. So many of that type of book are about boys, when actually girls have a lot more to deal with, and at an earlier age, too.
    As always a good review, with all those hints to entice us. 😉

  5. annebrooke
    December 23, 2009

    I’ve just finished this and it’s absolutely amazing. I loved it!! Thank you so much for the tip-off, Eve. Gripping and dark and rich – for me, the perfect Christmas read. And that last line – soooo truly great and carries a whole another novel lurking inside it. Just how all novels should end.



  6. sylvia
    March 29, 2010

    Is this book appropriate reading for a 13 yr old, grade 7 girl??

  7. Moira
    March 29, 2010

    I’ve drawn your query to Eve’s attention, Sylvia … I’ve no doubt she’ll answer in due course.

  8. Eve Harvey
    March 29, 2010

    Oh dear… I’m really not sure without knowing more about the girl in question.

    There is a bit of an almost sex scene and there’s some fumbling around. The language isn’t bad at all but there are some adult themes.

    Erm… I’m the kind of mother (having a 13 year old daughter too) who has no problems letting her children read pretty much whatever they like. They’ll stop if it’s scaring them too much and I have no doubt they’ll read the juicy bits over and over ’till the page falls out. I’m happy they’re reading.

    But I have no idea how other people feel about that. I can only say there’s nothing too bad for a girl of 13 that isn’t outweighed by the fabulous story, brilliant writing and education she’ll get reading about the times this book is set.


  9. Pingback: what i saw and how i lied theme - Saw Tool

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This entry was posted on November 21, 2009 by in Entries by Eve, Fiction: young adult.



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