The Comfort of Lies

The Comfort of Lies

by Randy Susan Meyers


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In this “sharp and biting, and sometimes wickedly funny” (The Boston Globe) bestselling novel, three very different families are threatened in the wake of an extramarital affair.

Five years ago . . .

Tia fell into obsessive love with a man she could never have. When she became pregnant, Nathan disappeared, and she gave up their baby for adoption.

Caroline reluctantly adopted a baby to please her husband. Now she’s ques­tioning whether she’s cut out for the role of wife and mother.

Juliette considered her life ideal: solid marriage, two beautiful sons, and a thriving business. Then she discovered Nathan’s affair. He promised he’d never stray again, and she trusted him.

Now . . .

When Juliette intercepts a letter to her husband that contains pictures of a child who deeply resembles him, her world crumbles once more. How could Nathan deny his daughter? What other secrets is he hiding? Desperate for the truth, Juliette goes in search of the little girl, and before long the three women are on a collision course with consequences that none of them could have predicted.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451673029
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication date: 01/28/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 356,543
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Randy Susan Meyers is the bestselling author of Waisted, Accidents of Marriage, The Comfort of Lies, The Murderer’s Daughters, and The Widow of Wall Street. Her books have twice been finalists for the Mass Book Award and named “Must Read Books” by the Massachusetts Center for the Book. She lives with her husband in Boston, where she teaches writing at the Grub Street Writers’ Center.

Read an Excerpt

The Comfort of Lies

  • After five years of marriage, Peter still made love to Caroline as though realizing his life’s dream. Being the object of his lust never failed to rouse her own. Exercising on the treadmill, Caroline labored through work problems, scratching ideas in tiny journals she kept in her pockets. Riding the train to work, she caught up with medical journals; driving to visit her parents, she listened to audiobooks. Only with her husband did she remember her corporeal being. There was no other time she left her mind and lived inside her body.

    Peter thought her beautiful, he thought her sexy, and he made her believe it, if only for the moments she lay with him. She didn’t live under illusions. Much of her belief system boiled down to “What it is, is.” Caroline knew she was more wholesome than bombshell. Before Peter, she’d limited her relationships to men who marched to the same beat as she did: quiet songs, gentle dances. Peter unlocked her fervor.

    “Come on, you’re incredible,” Peter declared when she scoffed at his compliments. Where her honest doctor eyes saw wheat-colored hair not dramatic enough to call blonde, an easy-to-forget face, and a slat-like build, Peter declared her graceful and pure, and then delineated how those qualities turned him on. She knew it was her difference from every woman he’d grown up with that excited him: she was his upper-class unattainable woman—just as his unrestrained fervor, so different from the boys she grew up with, provided the same thrill for her.

    After, they lingered in the bedroom, as they did every Sunday. Coffee cups, plates covered with crumbs, and orange rinds littered their bedside tables.

    “Listen to this, Caro.” Peter cleared his throat and, using his public voice—the one he used at investor meetings—read aloud from his laptop:

    “Forecasters believe the strongest economic growth in two decades is in front of us. Businesses are investing in new plants and equipment and rehiring laid-off workers. Most economists predict 2004 should be an excellent year, and that this should be a predictor for years to come.”

    “Mmm,” Caroline responded, the words not really registering. Peter grasped financial concepts instantly, while she found economic analysis so dry that it crumbled before it traveled from her ears to her brain. “Online news?” She pulled up the covers a bit.

    “Yes, but it’s a well-regarded site. Do you know what this means?”

    “Not a clue, actually, beyond the facts as presented. But I’m sure you do.” Caroline smiled, waiting for Peter to spill his theories. He shared his thoughts as they occurred to him. Peter tended to think out loud, while Caroline let ideas percolate for days, weeks, or longer before opening them to question.

    “It means folks will be investing like crazy,” Peter said. “They’ll think they’re hopping on the money train. Do you know what that means?”

    She leaned her head on his shoulder. They were close to a match in height. “No.” He did their accounting; she kept their space in perfect order. Having disparate interests freed each of the boring and baffling portions of life. “Do you want to watch the fireworks tomorrow night?”

    “Yes, and don’t change the subject. Listen, we’re in a perfect-storm place. The naïve of the world—meaning most—will believe, once again, that uptrends in stocks and real estate will continue forever—exactly the mythology which leads to insanity in the market.”

    “Ah. Interesting. The masses moving in lockstep.” She picked up Pediatric Blood & Cancer.

    Peter pushed down the journal. “Caro, I’m not just commenting. This could be important to us.”

    Like the obedient student she’d always been, Caroline let the magazine drop in her lap and turned to her husband. “Okay. I’m listening.”

    “If we time this right, we’ll have an opportunity.”

    She nodded as though she’d have some part in this, when in reality, we meant Peter, who meshed with money. Building a pile of cash excited him beyond the security and buying power it represented.

    “When the business goes public next year, I’m betting our company stock prices will soar. Everyone wants . . . ”

    Her attention wandered a little, knowing what she was going to hear: Sound & Sight Software, Peter’s company, would provide a platform for X and integrate Y, etc., etc.

    She nodded and picked up her coffee cup, trying to read the journal lying in her lap.

    “That’s why we should start looking for a baby now,” Peter said. “Do you see what I’m saying?”

    Now Caroline looked up. She clutched the handle of her mug. “What?”

    Peter put a firm hand on her knee. “Were you listening?”

    She shook her head. “Not closely enough,” she said. “Say it again. The part about the baby, not the money.”

    “But they’re very related, hon. Look: soon I’ll need to focus on business in a different way. I feel it. Now’s the time to concentrate on getting our baby. Before work explodes, before everything crashes, when I can be the one to pick up all the work left from guys who got lost in the wreckage.”

    Peter shared her love of work: both of them were busy puritans turning the wheels of life. However, to Peter, life included a family—preferably a large one. He would be a spectacular father. Caroline couldn’t imagine a better man for the job, but she didn’t long for motherhood. That twenty-four-hour-a-day enthusiasm for the activity of children wasn’t in her.

    Her own mother’s passion for Caroline and her sisters had always been evident. Caroline didn’t want to offer her own children anything less, but she lacked the instinct for self-sacrifice. Once home, she didn’t want anyone forcing her to put down her journals or interrupting her studies.

    Becoming a mother terrified her so much that Caroline could barely hide her relief when she couldn’t get pregnant, and Peter’s sperm had turned out to be the problem.

    But then Peter, in his usual style of Okay, how do I solve this problem, and how quickly can I make it go away? began investigating adoption. She’d left all the research and decision making to him, a stance he’d always accepted. Peter liked being in charge. That’s why he’d chosen identified adoption, deeming it safer. He wanted to see the mother for himself, not leave their life decisions to anonymous social workers. “Better the devil you know,” he’d declared.

    Peter researched while Caroline did something totally out of character: she went into denial. Now, once again, the truth of every matter faced her: what was, was.

    “Now?” she asked. “Really now?”

    He sat up straighter and crossed his legs, pushing away the blanket. “It’s not that I’m saying now or never, but now is the best time.”

    “I’m not sure. It’s so busy at work, and—”

    “Honey, we’ll always have a reason to say ‘Not now.’ We’ll always be busy. But we can make time, and we’ll make room.” He scanned their cramped bedroom. “Though we’ll need more space. We might as well do it all up at once, eh? Look for the right neighborhood, right schools. Find the right house. My guess? Real estate will also drop soon.”

    Caroline—calm, always-good-in-an-emergency, hard-to-ruffle Caroline—felt as though she’d have an anxiety attack if he said one more word. “No,” she said.


    “I love our apartment,” she said. “I love our neighborhood.”

    “We need to find a place with great schools.”

    “We can find private schools,” Caroline insisted. “Like you said, we’ll have the money. I won’t do well in the suburbs.”

    “That’s just fear talking. I know how much you hate transition, but really, you’re going to be a wonderful mother wherever we are.”

    No she wouldn’t.

    “You’re perfect. Calm and loving. Smart. You’re always grounded. I adore that about you.” He stroked her arm.

    “Grounded? How romantic.”

    “And funny. Did I mention funny?”

    She managed a smile. “No one ever described me as funny.”

    “Oops, I meant that I was funny. And that you were smart to marry me.”

    She had been smart to marry him. He lightened her, he cosseted her, he made her into a better person—more aware of the world beyond her boundaries. But she didn’t want to change anything. Their life: she loved the way their life was now. A baby would ruin everything.

  • Reading Group Guide

    This reading group guide for The Comfort of Lies includes discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

    Topics & Questions for Discussion

    1. Discuss the epigraph of the novel, and whether you agree with this statement. Over the course of the novel, are lies shown to be a comfort to the person telling them or to the person hearing them? In general, do you think that there are situations in which telling the truth provides more comfort to the person delivering it rather than the person hearing it?

    2. Of the three female protagonists, which did you most identify with, and why?

    3. As you were reading, did you feel compelled to take sides between Juliette or Tia? Did you empathize more with one or the other?

    4. On p. 82, Caroline describes her experience of her father’s love, saying, “No one in the family resented that his deepest energies were saved for his work. They didn’t confuse his love and his energy.” Do you think the same kind of parenting style can be as effortlessly achieved by a mother? Must one parent be “stay-at-home” for this to work?

    5. As a group, read aloud Juliette and Nathan’s argument on p. 129-130. Who did you identify with more in this scene? How is the way that each character handles confrontation illustrative of their personality?

    6. Discuss the role of religion in the novel. How does it affect Tia and Nathan, in particular?

    7. Compare and contrast Juliette’s relationship with her mother and her parents’ marriage with what we know about Tia’s mother and father. How does each woman’s model of a romantic partnership affect what she seeks in men?

    8. Why, in his own words, does Nathan cheat? (You might turn to p. 219 and 252-253.) Do you believe that women cheat for the same reasons as men? Consider Caroline’s relationship with Jonah. Why do you think she stops herself when she does—and did she still cross a boundary she should not have?

    9. Do you think that “emotional cheating” is ultimately different from physical cheating? What about lying versus “lying by omission”?

    10. How does each woman respond to stress? Look at specific examples in the text. Who did you most relate to in this way?

    11. Forgiveness is an undercurrent throughout the novel. Who is seeking forgiveness from whom?

    12. Consider Nathan’s assessment on p. 252: “Juliette never let go of the why, which seemed to bother her more than the actuality. She searched for a reason that would put his infidelity into a paradigm she could understand and thus prevent from happening ever again. As though if he revealed the truth, she’d then understand how to prevent him from straying.” Do you think that understanding why something happened is necessary to fully forgive what actually happened?

    13. Turn to Caroline and Peter’s conversation on p. 262. Does the fact that Savannah is adopted affect how Caroline thinks about being a mother—does it make it seem more like a daily choice she must make rather than a state of being?

    14. Legality aside, do you believe that Tia should have had any right to claim custody of Honor/Savannah? Does Juliette have a right to know Savannah?

    15. Consider where Tia, Juliette, and Caroline are at the novel’s close. Do they seem somehow better off than they were at the novel’s beginning? Does the old saying “the truth will set you free” apply to these three women?

    Enhance Your Book Club

    1. Consider reading Randy Susan Meyers’s first novel, The Murderer’s Daughters, as a group. Compare and contrast the ways that Meyers tackles the issues of guilt and forgiveness in this novel, as well as in The Comfort of Lies. In each book, how does she illustrate the ways that a single action can have repercussions across multiple years and lives?

    2. For some brief moments in the novel, we hear Nathan’s point of view. Which of the other male characters’ perspectives would you have wanted to read? For example, what do you imagine Peter would say after his conversation with Caroline on p. 226-227?

    3. Pretend you’re casting the movie version of The Comfort of Lies. Who would play each protagonist? Who would you cast as Nathan?

    Customer Reviews

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    The Comfort of Lies: A Novel 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Tightly written story of how infidelity can spill over into affecting far more than the intial two people involved. From the child borne from the affair, to wife of the man cheating, to the couple who adopted the child--nobody was is left unscathed.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Three very different women, all bound by their connection to one small child, their stories converging in a novel you'll willingly miss sleep and food to read!
    CharlotteLynnsReviews More than 1 year ago
    The Comfort of Lies is a strong story of three women all dealing with their lives and how they intertwine with each other.  The story starts five years ago. The first woman is Tia.  Tia entered into an affair with a married man, Nathan.  When she ended up pregnant, he left her and she gave up the baby for adoption.  Next is Caroline.  Caroline has an extremely important job with long hours, but adopted Tia’s baby just to please her husband, Peter.  She is now questioning whether she can be a mother and wife. Finally, there is Juliette, Nathan’s wife.  Nathan told Juliette of his affair with Tia, but never mentioned that Tia was pregnant when he walked away from her.  Juliette finds a letter in the mail from Tia to Nathan.  Inside the letter are pictures of their daughter.  This crumbles Juliette’s world. Fast forward five years. All the woman know of each other and are trying to put the lives back in the right. Each woman had their own life and their own flaws.  I enjoyed watching each work through their life and figure out how to live again.  Tia struggled with her decision to give up the baby and never gave up the idea of loving Nathan.  Caroline struggled with being an adoptive child’s mother.  Felling like she has no right to complain, as all mothers do at times, because her child is adopted.  Juliette is just angry.  Angry with everyone, but not sure why.  It was extremely touching and real watching each woman move through their struggles. I found Nathan to be the man I wanted to hate, but somehow I couldn’t.  He came across as devoted and sorry for the affair.  Devoting his life to his current family, not giving a second thought to his affair or Tia.  When it all came back to the front burner, he tried to deal with it, but struggled as any person would. The baby, Savannah, was also given a place to give her point of view.  I loved how it was a focal point and that Savannah was left to be a child.  Not made too old or mature.   The feelings she had were true to what an adopted child put in the position of knowing her biological parents should feel and question. I was totally into this story.  Caught from the beginning and unable to put it down. This is definitely more than just a chic-lit novel.  It has heart and feeling along with a real life story.  Anyone who picks this novel up will love it.  
    KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Three women who are interwoven in this book and some don't know the connections that exist between them, one knows all of the details, good and bad.  Tia, had an affair with a married man and when she became pregnant he ran for the door.  Juliette is married to this cheating man, but only knows bits and pieces of the full story.  Caroline is the adoptive mother of the child and may be the most clueless of the bunch, of the story and of herself and her own true happiness.
    FireplaceReader More than 1 year ago
    I had the good luck to read an early copy of this book, and fell in love with the complexities of three women, their commitment (and claim) to one child, and their complicated relationships with the men in their lives. Not all women approach or experience motherhood in the same way, and this book dares to ask, Does anyone “deserve” to be a mother more than another? I loved The Murderer’s Daughters, and Meyers has applied her same emotional-honesty radar to this book. She writes with heart and wisdom and, most importantly, without any easy judgement. 
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Incredible writing. I'm hooked.
    anovelreview_blogspot_com More than 1 year ago
    The lives of three women intersect, because of one man. Nathan is married to Juliette and they have two boys and a beautiful life together. For reasons he can't explain he begins an affair with Tia, a young woman from the South side of Boston. Nathan has the best of two worlds until Tia tells him she is expecting a baby. Nathan tells her to take care of it and walks out of her life. He later confesses his affair to his wife. Tia trying to redeem herself from having an affair with a married man refuses to have an abortion. Instead Tia decides the best choice is adoption. Caroline is a dedicated pathologist, she works long hours and hates leaving her lab. But she loves her husband very much and he's pressuring her to adopt a baby. Against her better judgement she follows through with the adoption. Five years later, Tia can't let the idea of Nathan go. When her yearly envelope arrives with pictures of her young daughter Tia decides to send a letter to Nathan. When the letter and pictures arrive at Nathan's home, its his wife Juliette who gets the letter. Nathan never told her there was a baby, and yet there in front of her is the proof of his affair...a little girl who looks remarkably like their youngest son. Juliette becomes obsessed with the little girl and where she is. It doesn't take long before the lives of these three women become more entangled and the outcome for all of them is uncertain. Talk about a book you can't put down! The more I read the more I was captivated by the story. I mean I didn't even know how I wanted things to play out in the end! I kept thinking what's going to happen? Oh I don't like her or I get her, but. None of these women are perfect. You have Tia on one hand that is simply a hot mess. She needed to move on from the life that disappeared five years ago or more the life she thought she was going to have. Then Caroline, I couldn't relate to her work before everything focus. But I did like that she was trying to the best of her ability. Last, Juliette who I got. I can't imagine finding out my husband cheated. Then you work so hard to move forward to find out there was even more to the story?!? Yet, I felt for her wanting her marriage even though it was broken. Each woman feels a connection to the child. Each woman questions what it means to be a mother. Each woman has to deal with an inner struggle. I never knew exactly where the story was headed, I didn't know where I wanted it to go. In the end, perfect ending. Loved everything about this book. This is a perfect book for a book club! So many topics to discuss! Highly highly recommend!
    InsomniacKC More than 1 year ago
    I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book and I thoroughly recommend it. Like Meyer's first book, The Murderer's Daughters (which I also loved), secrets and lies are at the heart of this story, which is told by three women (Tia, Caroline and Juliette) and one man, Nathan. Five years before the opening, Tia, a young college student, had an affair with Nathan, a charismatic professor who is married to Juliette. When Tia becomes pregnant, Nathan abruptly ends the affair, assuming that Tia will terminate the pregnancy -- which she does not. The novel braids the story of the three women: Tia, who still misses Nathan and worries that she made a mistake in giving away her baby, Caroline, the baby's adoptive mother, and Juliette, Nathan's wife, who learns about the existence of the little girl before Nathan does. I love the complexity of these women, and the ways they think about and navigate complex issues around parenting, love, work and family.
    GailPriest More than 1 year ago
    Beautifully Woven Plot. The story lines and lives of the three women are beautifully woven together through the secret that binds them together. The characters were believable and distinct. I found myself completely caught up in their lives. I look forward to reading other books by Randy Susan Meyers.
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    Literary_Marie More than 1 year ago
    When I received a review copy of The Comfort of Lies, I was eager to dive in reading. The title alone piqued my interest. Aren't we all comfortable with lies? I was drawn in from the first page. The Comfort of Lies has an alternating point of view between three very different women all connected to a five-year-old girl: Tia, the birth mother; Caroline, the adopted mother; and Juliette, the wife of the birth father. Five years ago, Tia was in love with an unavailable man. He broke ties when she became pregnant so she gave the baby up for adoption. Caroline felt pressured to please her husband and adopt a baby despite being a workaholic. Juliette thought she had a picture-perfect life with a loving husband, two sons and a thriving business...until she learned of Nathan's affair and intercepts a letter containing photos of his daughter. Upset and in search of the truth, Juliette's actions lead her to Caroline and Tia's door looking for answers. None of the characters are prepared for the consequences of lies told.  Sharp writing. Emotional story. Complex characters. Layered drama that kept me flipping the pages. The Comfort of Lies was just published a few short weeks ago, making it a prime pick for a book club (discussion questions/readers guide included). You will not be disappointed if you purchase this novel; get snowed in with this good read from an award-nominated author Randy Susan Meyers. Watch the trailer below and read an excerpt here.  Literary Marie of Precision Reviews
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