Beautiful Lies

Overview

London 1887. For Maribel Campbell Lowe, the beautiful bohemian wife of a maverick politician, it is the year to make something of herself. A self-proclaimed Chilean heiress educated in Paris, she is torn between poetry and the new art of photography. But it is soon plain that Maribel's choices are not so simple. As her husband's career hangs by a thread, her real past, and the family she abandoned, come back to haunt them both. When the notorious newspaper editor Alfred Webster begins to take an uncommon interest...

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Beautiful Lies

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Overview

London 1887. For Maribel Campbell Lowe, the beautiful bohemian wife of a maverick politician, it is the year to make something of herself. A self-proclaimed Chilean heiress educated in Paris, she is torn between poetry and the new art of photography. But it is soon plain that Maribel's choices are not so simple. As her husband's career hangs by a thread, her real past, and the family she abandoned, come back to haunt them both. When the notorious newspaper editor Alfred Webster begins to take an uncommon interest in Maribel, she fears he will not only destroy Edward's career but both of their reputations.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
As in her previous novels, Clark takes real events as her inspiration but allows herself the freedom to invent and embellish. Her historical research is immaculate without being overbearing…As always, Clark doesn't rush through her plot. She develops the story gently, with revelations about Maribel's past folded carefully into scenes from the present, yielding a complex tapestry of tales. A captivating fable of truth and memory, Beautiful Lies speaks to us quietly yet with strength.
—Andrea Wulf
Publishers Weekly
Clark’s fourth novel (after Savage Lands) offers an informative if disjointed portrait of the Victorian era, encompassing socialist politics, spiritualism, economic crisis, tabloid journalism, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, and family secrets. Maribel Campbell Lowe is the wife of an earnest MP, whose passion for the socialist cause puts his political career at risk. Maribel’s photography hobby brings her into contact both with the Indians of Buffalo Bill’s show and the growing spiritualist movement, whose members are fascinated by the possibility of spirits appearing in photographs, a sometimes accidental and often duplicitous practice. The core of the book is Maribel’s personal history, a secret life she has hidden at the cost of losing her family. When a devious newspaper editor comes close to revealing her past, and destroying her reputation and her husband’s career, bright, resourceful Maribel must take a stand. Individual vignettes—Maribel’s photo studio, the lively spirit of the Wild West Show, her husband’s involvement with socialism—will charm devotees of the Victorian era, but no meaningful connection between them is made, and the novel bursts at the seams as Clark struggles to wrap them up by the end. Agent: Clare Alexander, Aitken Alexander Associates. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"Clark's fiction manages to maintain historical accuracy even as it indulges in great storytelling and lush prose. . . . Her central character, Maribel Campbell Lowe, is the beautiful, chain-smoking wife of a radical Scottish M.P. . . . She develops the story gently, with revelations about Maribel's past folded carefully into scenes from the present, yielding a complex tapestry of tales. A captivating fable of truth and memory."—Andrea Wulf, The New York Times Book Review

"Beautiful Lies presents us with a couple who would surely be counted among our Beautiful People today. . . . .The whole novel is carefully constructed and full of wonderful details about the period. You can see that the Victorian Age is a mirror image of our own. And Edward and Maribel are touching, funny, brave, and sweet." —Carolyn See, The Washington Post

"The charm of Beautiful Lies is that Clark breaks the usual Victorian moral code, exploring both the colorful world outside the drawing room and the depths of her characters' minds. A stirring and seductive novel."  - The Economist

 

"Clark plays with the ideas of identity and image, while incorporating the Bloody Sunday riots, Buffalo Bill Cody's Will West Show, and the growing interest in Spiritualism. . . .Beautiful Lies takes its time to develop, but its portrait of a woman determined to decide for herself who she is and a society less stable and comfortable than it imagines is a rich one well worth studying." —The Christian Science Monitor

Praise for Clare Clark:

"One of those writers who can see into the past and help us feel its texture." –Hilary Mantel, Booker Prize-winning author of Wolf Hall 

"As a storyteller, Clark is endowed with verve and intelligence, but her larger gift, dazzlingly in evidence throughout both her fine novels, lies in the originality of her imagination. She gives us a world that feels alive and intense, magnificently raw."—New York Times Book Review

"Clark’s commitment to historical color is matched by the dramatic arc of an engrossing story." —Washington Post

"Clare Clark writes with the eyes of a historian and the soul of a novelist." - Amanda Foreman

Library Journal
On the face of it, Edward and Maribel Campbell Lowe are a respectable Victorian couple with an estate in Scotland and a fashionable flat in Belgravia. He is a reform-minded member of Parliament whose associates include Oscar Wilde and William Morris. She is a beautiful, Chilean-born society matron who smokes too much and dabbles in photography. But Maribel is not who she appears to be, and unresolved ties to her past threaten to expose her family to scandal and ruin. At the dawn of tabloid journalism, with Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show arriving in London to massive crowds and unprecedented press coverage, the Campbell Lowes provide great fodder for the gossipmongers. Edward's firebrand politics on behalf of the homeless and unemployed lead to considerable notoriety, casting an unkind spotlight on the couple. VERDICT Inspired by a real-life politician of the era and his wife, Clark (The Great Stink) presents another engaging, compulsively readable window into Victorian society. This should be a popular choice in public libraries.—Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont.
Kirkus Reviews
A well-rendered novel of extraordinary lives in Victorian London. Bodices are ripped, to be sure, but Clark (Savage Lands, 2010, etc.) offers much more than a genre romance with her tale of the darkly beautiful Maribel Campbell Lowe, of whom we learn, early on, "Mrs. Campbell Lowe is from Chile where llamas really live and therefore, unlike a little English girl, knows exactly how to say it right." She knows more than how to pronounce the double ell. Maribel is a freethinker, savage smoker of cigarettes, literata and artist who knows her way around that newfangled thing called a view camera ("The darkroom smelled as it always did of chemicals and used-up air"). Her husband, wild and Scottish, is no slouch in the bohemian department, either; an aristocratic imbiber of great quaffs of distilled goodies, he's a headline waiting to happen. Enter newsman Alfred Webster, who professes to admire their free-spirited ways--but then begins to warm up to a carefully hidden secret from Maribel's past, for how could she not have a fathomlessly deep mystery at her core? Amid Dickensian flourishes ("Them jam tarts'll need taking out in a minute") that sometimes wander into Drood territory, Clark's characters play fine and psychologically dense games of cat and mouse, some with unlikely set decorations furnished by Buffalo Bill and his immensely popular Wild West Show--not to mention Queen Vicky herself. It makes for a grand adventure, and Clark's novel is so richly textured and detailed that the reader might rightly wish that she return to her former profession as a historian--for a rousing social history of the Victorian era, written to these standards, would be a welcome thing. But given some of her book's subthemes, including the endless tawdriness of Fleet Street and the endless hypocrisy of the social world, that era, as Clark recounts it, seems all too modern. Long, intricate and very well-realized: a page turner for the smart set.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781624060168
  • Publisher: Dreamscape Media
  • Publication date: 9/18/2012
  • Format: MP3 on CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 5.62 (w) x 5.01 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Meet the Author

Clare Clark is the author of four novels, including The Great Stink, which was long-listed for the Orange Prize and was named a Washington Post Best Book of the Year, and Savage Lands, which was long-listed for the Orange Prize in 2010. Her work has been translated into five languages. She lives in London.

READER BIO
Wanda McCaddon began recording books in the early 1980s and has since narrated well over six hundred titles, as well as abridging, narrating, and coproducing classic titles for her own company, Big Ben. Audiobook listeners may be familiar with her voice under one of her two nom de mikes,' Donada Peters and Nadia May. The recipient of an Audie nomination and twenty-five Earphones Awards, AudioFile magazine has named her one of recording's Golden Voices.

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