Andy Boyd is a widower with a young son, his wife having died in childbirth. With full-time work and family responsibilities Andy’s social life has become non-existent. He is accepting of this and it’s his mum and brother who encourage him to ‘get out more.’ When he does and he meets the beautiful Anna he feels that life is giving both him and his boy Pat, another chance.
But Anna is not what she seems and even as early as their wedding night the problem begins to show. It isn’t easy reading about domestic abuse and even more unusual from the male perspective. Though it happens to many people, it is difficult, as an outsider, to understand those (both male and female) who choose to soldier on through an abusive relationship. In Andy’s case the decision to leave is made doubly difficult by the arrival of a new baby.
On top of all this, money has been going missing at the bank where Andy is a manager, his relationship with both his mother and brother are strained because of Anna’s demands and her jealousy of him spending time with them. Andy begins to keep secrets from Anna, to lie and to cover things up to keep her from flying into one of her rages. He suffers indignation for the sake of his wife and boys. And all the while he must try to discover what has been happening at the bank.
It’s a total nightmare.
A Suitable Lie is harrowing at times and, I think, necessarly a little repetitive as the abuse and soul-searching must go on and on in order for Andy to finally make a decision to change things. His co-worker, Sheila, who has also suffered abuse at the hands of her husband and the ongoing investigation into fraud, as well as Andy’s impossible situation regarding any kind of disclosure to his colleagues make his life intolerable. Finally something has to give but there is a twist in their fate that Andy couldn’t possibly anticipate.
Enjoyable maybe isn’t the word to describe this novel, but it is interesting and insightful. At the end I could sympathise with the way Andy chooses to explain the events to his two young children, to love and protect them at all costs but I couldn’t fully understand his own feelings. As damaged as Anna was she was also very wrong.