The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was one of my favorite reads of 2008. Author Annie Barrows, best known for writing children’s books, finished that book upon the death of her aunt, Mary Ann Schaffer, and is listed as a co-author. I liked the book so much, so when I became aware of The Truth According to Us, by the same author, I eagerly started the book. I didn’t want to put it down.
Layla Beck’s father is a United States Senator in the years of the Great Depression. In 1938, he is fed up with the antics of his spoiled daughter, and coerces a friend to get her hired as part of the New Deal jobs program called the Federal Writers’ Project. He reluctantly agrees, and she is given the job of writing the history of a small mill town in the remotest part of West Virginia. Neither her father nor her new mentor have great expectations.
Far from the high society that she is used to, Layla finds a room living with the Romeyn family, whose family founded the sock manufacturing mill that basically employs and defines the town. She is quickly drawn into the mysteries surrounding that family. What’s more, she discovers she likes her new task, and she’s quite good at it.
Willa Romeyn is a curious 12-year-old whose mother abandoned her and her sister Bird when they were very young, leaving their upbringing to her fairly unreliable father Felix. It is really his sister, their Aunt Jottie, who takes on the task of making a home for the two girls.
It isn’t long before Layla has fallen for Felix, but she is intrigued by the stories that surround the family. She is also intrigued by the fact that the powers-that-be in the community seem to want nothing to do with the Romeyns.
The characters in The Truth According to Us, are delightfully quirky and loveable, and much more complex as the story plays out. The Romeyns are characters that I grew to love, especially Willa and Jottie.
The story is told from different perspectives, including Willa’s, Layla’s, and Jottie’s. Much of Layla’s perspective is demonstrated via letters written to her best friend and her parents. Despite the different perspectives, I didn’t find the book confusing at all.
It really was a delightful story with a satisfying ending, and created a good picture of Small Town American during the post WWI – and-pre-WWII years.
I highly recommend this book.