The Comfort of Lies – Randy Susan Meyers
By – Sheri de Grom
What if the next novel I select doesn’t measure up to my expectations? I always have that overwhelming fear when I finish a novel which holds me in its clutches with the tightness The Comfort of Lies held over me.
The Comfort of Lies introduces three women so different from each other it’s amazing they all have the same two things in common: one man and one baby!
I set myself up not to like Tia. Her first sentence reads . . . Pg 3 [Happiness at someone else’s expense came at a price.] . . .
Tia is a twenty-four-year-old single, college-educated woman. She’s having an affair with a thirty-seven-year-old married college professor and is convinced she’s loved by a man of substance.
Tia believes Nathan, the married professor, loves her. She believes he’ll leave his wife, until she tells him she’s pregnant with his child and he offers to pay for an abortion.
Tia refuses to consider an abortion and Nathan ends their affair. Tia’s alone and believes the best thing for her baby is adoption.
Juliette is Nathan’s wife, the mother of their two sons and a successful business woman.
. . . Pg 16 [The kids came first. Nathan’s schedule, second. Then came cooking, cleaning, birthdays, Halloween, Passover, Chanukah, and Christmas—anchoring her family. That’s how she thought of it. Juliette loved her work to an unholy degree, but she worked equally hard to hide her obsession, always a bit ashamed of how much passion she felt about her business.] . . .
Nathan confesses his affair to Juliette. Their marriage is rocky but they work together to save their family. That is, they work together until a letter arrives and Juliette intercepts it. The letter is addressed to Nathan—from Tia. It contains pictures of their daughter.
Caroline is a pathologist dedicated to children’s cancer research. She and Peter have been married to their work. Now Peter wants a baby. Caroline knows she lacks the instinct of self-sacrifice required of parenting.
. . . Pg 25 [Once home, she didn’t want anyone forcing her to put down her journals or interrupting her studies.]. . .
Part two opens in Tia’s point of view. She’s looking at a picture of her daughter five years later. Tia selected her daughter’s adoptive parents and they send pictures each year on the child’s birthday. Tia’s began to drink before and after work after the baby’s adoption.
As a reader I approached Tia with skepticism. We also used the open adoption system and I never became comfortable with the birth mother. I’m convinced it was because of my own insecurities all those years ago when open adoptions weren’t as common as they are today. The author reached into the very souls of Tia, Juliette and Caroline in the telling of The Comfort of Lies.
Juliette spends years researching why men have affairs. She tortures herself by the hour with endless statistics and the probability that Nathan will cheat again. When Juliette intercepted the letter meant for Nathan, she knew nothing about Caroline and became a stalker of both Tia and Caroline. Her main focus was on Caroline as she had Nathan’s child and Caroline becomes obsessed with having the girl in her family.
Ms. Meyers explores cultural expectations I rarely see novelist visit. As an adoptive parent, I was especially happy to see the author disallow Caroline the luxury of complaining about the time and energy parenting requires. I immediately identified with Caroline in believing I had no right to complain about anything. It was a miracle that I had a daughter when so many other couples went without a child. It didn’t matter that my career was all-consuming. Like Caroline, something had to give.
Tia, Juliette, Caroline and Nathan live in a state of free fall from the opening page. Each character was so resilient; The Comfort of Lies became a page turner that rushed me late into the night. I had to know what happened to the innocent five year old girl. Would she be pulled from the only parents she’d ever known?
I’m saddened when book clubs tell me they only discuss books available in trade paperback. I understand the economics, but when such an exceptional novel as The Comfort of Lies is available, it’s a pure joy to read and discuss.
The Comfort of Lies has my unconditional recommendation and I’m positive it will make my top ten reads of 2013.