Expansive and revealing… Leslie Brody assembles the clues to the personal history that shaped Fitzhugh’s conscience and creative convictions. Brody, a biographer and playwright who adapted “Harriet the Spy” for the stage in 1988, has pored through correspondence, memoirs and court documents, and conducted dozens of interviews to reveal the trail that Fitzhugh left unmarked.”New York Times
“Highly enjoyable… Ms. Brody’s engaging biography reminds us how fragile and serendipitous artistic beginnings can be, yet how mighty and enduring their endings.”Wall Street Journal
“A study that reveals the quiet subversiveness of Harriet the Spy and adds sharp political potency to the book’s seemingly innocent play with questions of secrecy and surveillance.” The New Republic
“In this sad, evocative biography, it is Fitzhugh’s friends who share her truths, so the story can remain true to her.”Washington Post
“A portrait of a complicated, messy, brilliant artist — who would have thrilled Harriet herself.”New York Post
“In ‘Sometimes You Have to Lie’, an engrossing and carefully researched biography of Louise Fitzhugh, Leslie Brody vibrantly tells the story of the complicated and ultimately triumphant life of the author of “Harriet the Spy.” She presents a full portrait of Fitzhugh, previously a shadowy figure at best, and places her firmly in the top rank of children’s book creators."Boston Globe
“[Louise Fitzhugh] remains a mystery to this day, but Leslie Brody’s new book works to pull back the curtain on Fitzhugh’s sensational life.”Bustle
“Leslie Brody paints a portrait of Fitzhugh that’s almost as indelible as Harriet herself…deeply endearing introduction to the woman who gave the American canon one of its icons.”Vox
“In this lively, compassionate biography of Louise Fitzhugh, author of the children’s instant-classic ‘Harriet the Spy’ series from the 1960s, Leslie Brody sheds light on the remarkable woman behind the books.”Christian Science Monitor
“It turns out many of the roots of Harriet’s privileged existence can be found in the life of her creator, Louise Fitzhugh. Leslie Brody’s new biography, Sometimes You Have To Lie (a piece of Ole Golly dialogue), delves deep into the writer’s fascinating past.”The A.V. Club
“’Sometimes You Have to Lie’ is the fascinating story of the long-hidden truth about the life of the queer author of an iconic children’s book. Harriet wouldn’t be able to put it down.”Washington Blade
“Brody’s book peeks behind the curtain at Fitzhugh’s hidden life, her writing, and her struggle to express her individuality during a time of turbulent social and cultural change.”BookTrib
"I've never been more intensely curious about a writer's life, nor more thwarted in finding anything out about that life, than I have been in the case of Louise Fitzhugh. At some point I deduced that the very lack of information likely answered my most burning question—was she a lesbian? But that was little preparation for the true story. What a lesbian! And what a life! Leslie Brody serves up an almost unbearably gratifying tale in her much-anticipated biography, Sometimes You Have To Lie. Southern Gothic childhood. Escape to Greenwich Village and Europe. Famous friends. String of lovers. Cross-dressing. Publishing gossip. Even a lost manuscript. I was especially pleased to learn so much about the painting career of this groundbreaking writer who considered herself just as much a visual artist. I only wish Brody's book, and Fitzhugh's life, had been much, much longer." Alison Bechdel,author of Fun Home
"Harriet the Spy was a tough, smart, vulnerable, funny,
unsentimental, and deeply observant little kid who was a born writer, much like her creator, the wonderful Louise Fitzhugh. She was a heroine unlike any children's book heroine who preceded her. If you loved Harriet, if you still think about her from time to time, you will love this book." RozChast, author of Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
"It has taken a really good spy, in Leslie Brody, to come up with the story we've been waiting to get our hands on for all our reading lifetimes. Sometimes You Have to Lie does the greatest honor to Louise Fitzhugh and her brilliant avatar, Harriet the Spy: It tells the truth."Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked and Egg & Spoon
"With clear-eyed compassion, Leslie Brody pulls back the curtain to reveal the complex, delicate, fierce woman whose imagination created our beloved Harriet the Spy, and so much more. I was fascinated and moved by Louise Fitzhugh's struggles to be and do and have all she desired, and I feel richer for the experience of getting to know her."Therese Anne Fowler, author of Z:A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
"What a role model Harriet the Spy was for a kid: whip-smart, curious, and bold. It turns out her creator, Louise Fitzhugh, was just as daring. Sometimes You Have to Lie is a rollicking and insightful biography about a modern literary heroine."Anne Zimmerman, author of An Extravagant Hunger: The Passionate Years of M.F.K. Fisher
"When you read Sometimes You Have to Lie, you become like Harriet, spying on Louise Fitzhugh. This wonderfully written biography lets readers walk in Louise's footsteps, as if taking notes on countless details of her complicated, rich life." Jack Gantos, author of the Rotten Ralph series
A scholarly biography of the creator of Harriet the Spy, the nosy scamp who brought “a new realism” to children’s fiction.
Does Harriet the Spy have a “queer subtext”? Is its heroine a “quintessential baby butch” character? Or is Harriet simply “a nasty little girl who keeps a notebook on all her friends,” as Louise Fitzhugh (1928-1974) told the poet James Merrill, her former adviser at Bard College? While fairly representing these varied points of view, Brody, a creative writing instructor, mostly lets Fitzhugh’s life speak for itself. The author follows her subject from her birth in Memphis to her death from a brain aneurysm in New Milford, Connecticut. Raised by a rich father who won custody after a sensational divorce trial, Fitzhugh later moved in boho circles with Djuna Barnes, Lorraine Hansberry, and Anatole Broyard in Greenwich Village. She had her first lesbian romance as a teenager and, after decades of affairs with women, was “obviously out of the closet” in later life. Yet Fitzhugh had a long-term correspondence only with Merrill, and her estate, the book suggests, keeps a tight rein on other material. Perhaps partly for such reasons, Fitzhugh remains an elusive figure who emerges most clearly through the tensions in her relationships with three celebrated editors who kept their own records: Ursula Nordstrom, Charlotte Zolotow, and Michael di Capua. Di Capua once complained to Fitzhugh about the Black characters’ dialogue in her post-Harriet book Nobody’s Family Is Going To Change: “You don’t know how to write black people.” A longtime lover said that an upset Fitzhugh responded, “I know how I want my characters to sound, and what I want them to say.” Such anecdotes, which are too few, give valuable glimpses of the fierce tenacity Fitzhugh shared with her most famous character.
A diligent but sometimes-hazy portrait of a beloved children’s author and illustrator.