Monday, 18 January 2016

Company of Liars - Karen Maitland

Company of Liars - Karen Maitland
I've had this book sitting on my to be read shelf (aka the pile of books on my beside table) for about a year now. For some reason I was finding it hard to pick up and read. Not that I knew anything about it, I'd been bought it for Christmas last year, and hadn't even heard of it before that. The problem was, that I am a historian by training, that is, I studied history at University. More to the point, this is more or less 'my' period. I'm always hesitant to start reading fiction set in the past, more often than not, it's so far removed from anything that I've studied that I can't cope with it.

Having said all that, it's now some time, (we don't need to go into how long) since I was at university, and while I still retain an interest, my knowledge isn't what it was, I've moved on from the days where I struggled to even watch TV history programmes. 

In any case, whatever my fears, I picked up Company of Liars and started to read a week or so ago. Once I'd got started I was hooked, I loved the unfolding of the story and the development of the characters, all with their secrets to hide and their past to conceal.

Although the setting was 1348, in many ways it was more a mystery or a thriller than a straight historical novel. There were a few aspects that didn't really fit, for me, with the period, but taking it as a dark novel, rather than something that was strictly historically accurate, made that easier to cope with. 

I have noticed that other people have complained about the ending, obviously I won't go into details of that here, but I think that I should comment on it. Was it what I was expecting? Not really. Was it the right ending? I'm not convinced. It seemed a little forced, to be honest almost as if she reached the end and suddenly decided that she couldn't just fade the story out. On the other hand, let's not forget that the whole theme of this book was liars and the lies that they tell, perhaps we should take everything that we're told with a pinch of salt.

If you're interested in a quite dark, set in the past thriller, and aren't too concerned about historical accuracy (although much of this does feel fairly authentic, just not all of it) and a slightly unexpected ending doesn't distress you too much, then you'd do well to give it a go.