Big Lies in a Small Town

Big Lies in a Small Town

by Diane Chamberlain

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Overview

From New York Times bestselling author Diane Chamberlain comes an irresistible new novel in Big Lies in a Small Town.

North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher's life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women's Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.

North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn't expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.

What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?

"Chamberlain’s depictions of creative beauty and perseverance across time and in the face of inevitable obstacles will keep readers turning the pages."—Publishers Weekly

"Chamberlain’s writing is reminiscent of a quilt made up of pieces from different people, places, and times, stitched together into a single, emotional story."—Booklist

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250087331
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/14/2020
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 596
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Diane Chamberlain is the New York Times and international bestselling author of The Stolen Marriage, The Dream Daughter, and Big Lies in a Small Town. She lives in North Carolina with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca, and her sheltie.

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Big Lies in a Small Town 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 168 reviews.
cloggiedownunder 29 days ago
Big Lies In A Small Town is the nineteenth stand-alone novel by award-winning American author, Diane Chamberlain. Two very different twenty-two-year-old women, two very different times. In mid-2018, Morgan Christopher’s literal get-out-of-jail card comes from the estate of well-known African-American artist and philanthropist, Jesse Jameson Williams. A year into her three-year prison sentence, Jesse’s lawyer gets Morgan parole under certain strict conditions, the most important being that Morgan has to complete the restoration of a mural in just under two months. In late 1939, New Jersey art school graduate, Anna Dale wins a national competition to paint a mural for the Post Office in the small North Carolina town of Edenton. It’s not the commission she’d hoped for, but with her mother recently deceased, Anna doesn’t have the luxury of choice: times are hard and she needs a job. Anna makes the trip to Edenton, where she learns that, not only is her win resented by some townspeople, but many have firm ideas for the mural’s subject. But, quite contrary to her original intentions, Anna finds herself staying in Edenton, getting to know the townspeople and painting her mural right there with the help of local art students. As she has no experience with restoring art, Morgan has no idea why she was selected. Jesse’s prickly daughter, Lisa is adamant that the deadline as laid down by Jesse’s will cannot be extended. Jesse is described as “Very passionate about the people he cared for. But demanding. And fussy… a kind man. A very loving man… But he was also very controlling.” Lisa also mentions something about the mural sending the original artist crazy. When Morgan first sees the mural, she feels overwhelmed by what is expected of her: it is dirty and badly damaged in places. As she cleans it, Morgan uncovers some bizarre features that have her itching to find out more about the enigmatic creator of the work. And all along, Morgan, Lisa and Oliver, the curator of Jesse’s about-to-open gallery, wonder about the significance to Jesse of this strange mural. Diane Chamberlain is a proven author, and the reader immediately feels in safe hands. Her characters are multi-faceted, her plot is easily believable with plenty of intrigue to keep the pages turning. The story features sexism, racial prejudice and alcoholism, and explores privilege and disadvantage; there are twists and surprises. This is a compelling mystery and a heart-warming read. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and St Martins Press
Vicki Saia 30 days ago
I really liked this book and hated to to see it end.
PHDuarte 15 days ago
Two female artists, separated by almost 80 years, are linked by a WPA mural designated for the post office in a small North Carolina town. In 1940 Anna Dale won the right to paint the mural, not in her home state of New Jersey, but in Edenton, North Carolina, in a culture she was totally unacquainted with. North Carolina in the 1940s was still rife with prejudices, color barriers, secrets and fear of the unfamiliar. Anna’s Northern sensibilities and attitudes do not endear her to the political and social elite of the town. The resulting conflict resulted in the disappearance of the mural, the town’s favorite artist and Anna herself. In 2018, Morgan Christopher was in prison for a crime she didn’t commit. but she was paroled to work on the restoration of the mural at the behest of her favorite painter, an African American man she admired but had never met. The mystery around the mural, the reason she was selected for the job and some of the mural's unusual iconography will take serious research into history and the secrets of Edenton past and present to unravel. I loved this book. I selected this book from NetGalley on a whim. I had heard of the author and wanted to read something by her. I was not disappointed. Living in 21st California and THE Midwest, I was aware of historical racial divides in the South, but Diane Chamberlain brought the conflicts to life for me. Her characters were so real. Anna’s naivete, Morgan’s bitterness, Lisa’s desperation, Jesse’s fear and strength. Complexity of events and personalities as the chapters alternated between events happening to Anna and to Morgan made the book one that I couldn’t put down.
Carolefort 1 days ago
Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain is a psychological mystery. It is a fascinating look at small town life, both in 1940 and in 2018. I admit that I was completely enthralled by this book. In 2018, Morgan Christopher is serving a three-year sentence for a crime she did not commit. After serving one year, she is approached by a lawyer who will see to it that she is released on the condition that she restore an old mural. In 1940, Anna Dale is commissioned to paint a post office mural in the town of Edenton, North Carolina. Upon finishing the artwork, Anna and the mural disappear suddenly, never to be seen again until Morgan is asked to restore the artwork. Layer by layer, she discovers many details that lead to Anna’s real story. Edenton is put under the microscope and out comes prejudice, death, love, friendship, jealousy, etc. The book alternates between 1940 and 2018, taking the reader along for the mysterious story of a mural and the two artists who put their heart and soul into it. And the ending is totally unpredictable and very satisfying. Diane Chamberlain is an expert when it comes to writing about human relationships and she does not disappoint here. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous 2 days ago
I read a number of intriguing reviews on this title, so was eager to read the book. It did not disappoint. The novel tells the story of two artists, Anna in the 1940s and Morgan in 2018. Around them is famous, I recently deceased artist, Jesse. The most impressive feat in the novel is the way in which the author connects their stories. Anna wins a contest to create a mural in a small southern town. Northerner Anna has many experiences in Edenton, culminating in a major event. In the present, Morgan is trying to atone for past poor decisions. Around each of these characters are many others who come to life. This story is partly a meditation on family (good and bad), race, community and more. The author cleverly adds to the story with diary entries and newspaper stories. Readers of women’s fiction and others will enjoy this novel that so excellently portrays its places and characters. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this read in exchangefor an honest review.
Anonymous 2 days ago
Another great book by one of my favorite authors. The plot line of this book was so different from anything else I've ever read. I was quite impressed by its creativity. One of the opening scenes features Morgan Christopher being released early from her 3 year prison stint at the Women's Correctional Center in North Carolina. The catch for her early release is that she has to restore an old post office mural that was created in the 1940's and she has to have it done by August 5th (a deadline that's only 2 months away.) The whole proposition just seems so odd to Morgan. Although she has experience as an artist, she's never restored any art, and she doesn't understand why she's the only one who can restore the art. Why would the finish date be connected to someone else losing their inheritance if she fails? Nothing makes sense to her except for the fact that if she accepts the deal she gets a "Get out of Jail Early" pass - an offer she can't refuse. From here, the book rotates back and forth between 2018 and 1940. The 1940 story line features Anna Dale - the artist who won a national contest to paint a mural in the small town of Edenton, NC. Anna faces issues of prejudice pointed at herself and her new friend. Usually when I read a dual story line, I find myself liking one of the story lines more than the other, but I couldn't really decide which one I liked more in this book. Both plot lines kept me interested and guessing about what was going to happen next. I thought it was fascinating to learn about how murals are made and also about some of the steps that take place during art restoration. Do I think either one of the story lines actually seemed plausible and could have happened in real life? Probably not, but that doesn't bother me. This book was such a fun read. If you love reading books by Diane Chamberlain, you won't be disappointed. I know that I wasn't. Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. All thoughts expressed in this review are my honest opinions of this book.
Nursebookie 5 days ago
Diane Chamberlain does it again in this magnificent novel set in two timeframes, the past and the present and weaved together brilliantly. The book is definitely well researched and I really enjoyed reading this dual timeline story that gave me so much emotions in reading this book that I knew I should not have started too late in the evening as there was no way this book was going to be able to put down. The story and the characters have immersed me into the story line and I could not wait what is to come next. I was so much a part of their lives that Chamberlain knew just what I needed in an amazing book. Thank you so much for this wonderful story that everyone needs to read about. And I have been telling everyone I know to pick this one up asap! Highly recommend this book.
Anonymous 6 days ago
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I have read several of Diane Chamberlain's books before and enjoyed them. The same can be said of this book. Her books always have different themes but are always a good read. The story is about two women, Morgan in present day and Anna in 1940. In 1940 Anna won a contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, NC. Switching back to present day, Morgan is hired to refurbish the painting. There are several disturbing features to the painting that make you wonder what Anna's story is. The book switches back and forth from 1940 to present day pretty much in each chapter, so there is no confusion about who you are reading about. Morgan and Anna both have problems that they have to deal with but in different ways and times. There are many secrets hidden in the painting and Morgan works to try to find out what they are. The book is full of mystery and history.
tlgreear 7 days ago
I really love books about history whether fiction or non-fiction. Not only is it interesting to see how people lived but it’s also fun to see how much the world has changed, if at all. Big Lies in a Small Town delivered accurate history plus a wonderful story. The book isn’t all historical fiction. The chapters go back and forth between Morgan Christopher in the present and Anna Dale in the past. At first, I couldn’t see a connection between the two main characters. But then the beauty of Diane Chamberlain’s plot began to emerge. Not only are Anna and Morgan connected but there is so much more! I don’t like to give away anything in a review. I try to keep my opinions strictly based on how well-written and well-developed the book may or may not be. This is very hard to do with this book! I want to talk to someone that has read it so we can discuss when we first realized...or, did they figure out...or, could you believe...get where I’m going? The book is so stinking good!! Don’t skim or skip any part and don’t assume any minor character isn’t important. There are no filler scenes or words in this story. My suggestion is for the reader to make uninterrupted time to read the book. Trust me when I say you will be glad you did. I voluntarily received a copy of this book from Netgalley.
nahyee 7 days ago
An amazing journey worth taking! Publisher’s description: North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher's life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women's Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets. North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn't expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder. What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies? ************ I can’t believe that I am just now discovering Diane Chamberlain. “Big Lies in a Small Town” is my first by this prolific author, and it will definitely not be my last. Told from the two points of view of Morgan in 2018 and Anna in 1940, this story captured me from the very beginning. Edenton, North Carolina, is your classic small town, where everyone is up in everybody else’s business and everyone has their secrets. The characters have so much depth, and the author did such a great job placing the reader in the town. The chapters are short, so it makes it feel like you’re getting through the book quickly, but the dialogue and the descriptions give you that slow southern small-town vibe. And I loved how everything came together at the end. This was truly an amazing journey worth taking. You won’t be disappointed. I received an advance digital copy of this title from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.
nckarter 7 days ago
Loved this book. I finished it in one day. I really enjoy all her books. Story was beautifully written. I could picture in my mind the mural just by her beautiful description of the details. It brought it to life. Can't wait for her next book!
Jolene13 8 days ago
I can not even begin to explain what a great book this is. I normally am not a big fan of books that go back and forth between the present and the past, but this was exceptional. I loved the way the author intertwined the present and the past making an intriguing story that was hard to put down.
CynB 12 days ago
Some writers are so reliable! You just know that you will meet interesting characters and a storyline that will dominate your life – at least for a few days. Diane Chamberlain certainly is one of the top authors in that category. I began reading her latest novel, Big Lies in a Small Town, enthusiastically. As expected, Chamberlain did not disappoint! Separated by almost 70 years, two young women are linked by a huge mural. In 1940, Anna Dale wins a contest to create the mural. In 2018, Morgan Christopher is hired to restore the mural. Against a background of small-town life and the social mores of two very different eras, Chamberlain masterfully weaves together the stories of the mural, the two women, and the famed artist, who knew both women. Every character is uniquely memorable, and several mysteries will keep readers turning pages far into the night. Thankfully, the author meticulously resolves the open questions. Nonetheless, I finished the book somewhat sad to say goodbye to compelling characters and a satisfying story. I strongly recommend this book! Thank you so much to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read an electronic ARC in exchange for an honest review. It was a pleasure.
navynurse 13 days ago
I honestly think I may have found a new author for my favorites list. This is only the second book I have read by this author but both have proved impossible to put down. This book bounces back and forth between artist Anna Dale in 1940 and Morgan Christopher in 2018. It took me about five chapters to figure out which time I was in but by chapter six I honestly couldn’t put this book down. I needed the answers that would only come from completing this book. The author did a great job creating a story that was historically believe able and very intriguing. I loved how the ending of this story produced answers but still leaves the reader wanting to know more. I can’t wait to see what this author does next! I am so grateful to netgalley and the publisher for making this available for me to read an advanced copy. The review is my honest opinion.
Anonymous 14 days ago
My first Diane Chamberlain book and I loved it so much. It’s told in two timelines that weave together beautifully. One storyline is Anna Dale’s story in 1940. She is an artist that has recently won a chance to create a mural for small town of Edenton, North Carolina. She moves there and gets pulled in by the hospitality and charm. She also sees the dark side of the town. The second storyline is that of Morgan Christopher in 2018, just getting out of prison for a crime she didn’t commit. She is hired to clean and restore Anna’s old mural. She’s an inexperienced art student, and it’s daunting to her to say the least. She begins to research just what happened to Anna in 1940 to cause her to paint such seemingly crazy things into the mural. It’s suspenseful and completely engrossing. Diane Chamberlain makes these characters come to life and intertwines them so perfectly. I loved the ease and flow of her writing style. I thought about this book even when I was away from it. I can’t wait to read more from this author.
MM_Reviewer 14 days ago
Thank you so much to Diane Chamberlain, Netgalley and the publisher (St. Martin's Press) for an Advanced Reader Copy for an honest review. Diane Chamberlain is one of my favorite authors, and once again she delivered with her new book, Big Lies In a Small Town. While I don't normally like to read about art, this book held my attention from the first page to the spell-blinding last sentence. She did an amazing job of helping the reader understand the job of restoration and actually took us back to the past a bit especially when it comes to restoring the mural for the post office. As far as I'm concerned, this is a 5 star book, and once again, I loved every minute of it.
Anonymous 15 days ago
I thought that Big Lies in a Small Town was an excellent story that kept me hooked until the bitter end. Diane Chamberlain has created a novel that spans two different eras- the early 1940's and the present time. At the start of the novel- in the present, Morgan is visited in prison by two women who offer to get her released early from prison where she is serving time for a drunk driving accident. As it turns out, Morgan is the beneficiary of a black artist named, Jesse Jameson Williams. In his will, Jesse has tasked Morgan with restoring a mural that was started in 1939 by an artist named Anna Dale. Anna had won a painting commission to paint a mural in the post office in a town called Edenton as part of the 48-States Mural Competition in 1939. Why did Jesse choose Morgan to restore the mural? Why does the mural seem to have been painted by a very troubled woman? And of course, what ever did happen to Anna Dale? The book is a neat puzzle that comes together bit by bit. The story explores the racial relationships that Anna dealt with in Edenton as well as Morgan's journey to accept her mistakes and move on to a new life which includes art, love and sobriety. I highly recommend this novel!
ADonovan 15 days ago
Big Lies in a Small Town captivated me. For the majority of the book, the story is told in chapters alternating between Morgan (2018) as she works to restore a mural, and Anna (1939-40) as she paints the original. These two women are both outsiders who end up in Edentown because of the moral, and through the story other connections emerge. Chapters often ended with a twist that made me not want to put the book down. Anna was strong to begin with, but Morgan finds her strength as she makes progress in accomplishing the restoration. Great story with lots of depth. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
JW88 15 days ago
Diane Chamberlain is one of my favourite authors - I am a big fan of her writing style. When I learned of the release of her latest book, Big Lies in a Small Town, I couldn’t wait to read it. The book certainly did not disappoint. The story is told from a dual-narrative, one of the most interesting ways in my opinion to develop a plot. In this book, Morgan Christopher is the first protagonist and her story is told from 2018. She is restoring a mural originally painted by the second protagonist, Anna Dale, who is paints the original in 1940. The book moved me the way a good book always does. The author deals with several sensitive issues including racism, sexual abuse and mental health and manages to make an impression of these issues without horrifying the reader. The book is engaging and kept me interested throughout. I simply loved this book and look forward to reading more of the author’s work. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves fiction. Thank you to Netgalley and St Martin's press for the ARC of this book in exchange for the honest review provided here.
Sheremy2627 15 days ago
I found this story captivating right from the beginning. This story follows two young women, Anna and Morgan and a mysterious mural that connects them. I enjoyed the way the stories were connected, even though the two women lived at different times. A wonderful read.
whatsbetterthanbooks 17 days ago
Mysterious, engaging, and thoroughly absorbing! Big Lies in a Small Town is a pensive, suspenseful tale that sweeps you away to Edenton, North Carolina during 1939, as well as 2018, and into the lives of Anna Dale and Morgan Christopher, two troubled, talented, young women whose strength, compassion, perseverance, and artistic abilities will be extremely tested by a small town with a history brimming with secrets, tension, prejudices, narrow-minded mentality, and violence. The writing is seamless and descriptive. The characters are intelligent, multilayered, and creative. And the plot, alternating between timelines, unravels and intertwines into a sweeping saga of life, loss, family, self-discovery, expectations, friendship, heartbreak, addiction, mental illness, discrimination, jealousy, and the beautiful, intricate details involved in the process of creating and restoring artwork. Overall, Big Lies in a Small Town is thought-provoking, alluring, and incredibly intriguing and with its rich characterization and impeccably detailed storyline, it’s another stunning example of why Diane Chamberlain is one of my all-time favourite authors.
amandainpa 17 days ago
I would have never thought a book about art restoration would be interesting but I was fascinated by this. The story is in 2 time periods and follows an artist who is making a mural for a post office in a small southern town and a woman who is tasked to restore the mural in present day. There is a lot of controversy surrounding the artist and mural and this makes for a very interesting and, at times, tense and suspenseful read. I really enjoyed the character development and rich atmosphere described in this book. I was very interested in the history of the public murals that are described in the story so I researched them online as there is one such mural in my hometown post office. I found some very interesting information about it and was surprised to find that my town mural also had some controversy surrounding it. I always enjoy Diane Chamberlain’s books, they have a little bit of everything and evoke many feelings and this one was no exception. I definitely recommend this story! I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Mary Thommen 18 days ago
Great
bella79954 19 days ago
Big lies in a small town is the story of two women born in different times dealing with issues which are beyond their control. Each woman will have her challenges and her triumphs. Each will be tested, and each will have to prove herself. North Carolina, 2018 Morgan Christopher was an art student who made a bad judgement call and ended up serving time in a women's correctional center for a crime she did not commit. Then one day she is visited by two women who tell her that she will be released from prison if she agrees to restore an old post office mural. She knows nothing about restoration but desperate to have freedom, she agrees. North Carolina, 1940 Anna Dale has won an art contest and is chosen to paint a mural for a post office in Edenton, North Carolina. She happily accepts and considers this to be an honor and a challenge. Little does she know, but there are those who don't want a woman painting the mural, nor do they like the company she keeps while painting. Prejudice and false assumptions run rampant. The two women's stories blend perfectly together. Usually when there are two timelines, I tend to prefer one over the other, but I loved both in this book. Both women were likable, both characters had me rooting for them. I watched Anna as she tried to complete her mural and I watched Morgan as she restored a mural which had been hidden away for years. I was fully invested in this story and loved the journey of finding out how the book would end. This book was beautifully written and had me on the edge of my seat, not with heart pounding suspense, but with a captivating and enthralling story that I didn't want to stop reading. I could literally feel the characters emotions while reading. Chamberlain did a great job of transporting me back to 1940 in the South. There are some heavy issues dealt with in this book and she handles them with care and sill. I love how she carefully guided the reader between the two stories telling the tale of mystery, romance, love, family ties, family secrets, art, music, pain, secrets, and prejudice. There a couple of little twists and turns along the way and all felt believable and made sense. Riveting heartfelt, thought provoking story telling. This is a MUST read! Highly recommend. Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.
KimberlyKESQ 19 days ago
"Big Lies in a Small Town" by Diane Chamberlain is the story of two different women, in two different times. In 1940, artist Anna Dale is chosen to paint a mural for the Edenton, North Carolina post office. In present times, Morgan Christopher is given the task of restoring the mural, which was never actually installed at the post office but instead found in storage. I was completely drawn into the book on the first page and the story kept me turning the pages because I couldn't wait to find out more about these two women. This book has everything I could want, strong, well-developed women characters, a little bit of mystery, a little bit of romance, a realistic backdrop of race relations in the 1940s, a believable and compelling plot, and a happy ending. I always greatly enjoy Ms. Chamberlain's novels, and this one was no exception. Thank you so much to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press, and the author for the privilege of reading an advanced digital copy of this wonderful book in exchange for my honest review. Five stars out of five stars!