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Love & Lies: A Secret Memoir

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In her private memoir, Theresa Alston Crandall reflects on family secrets she has held for forty years. Her duplicity has created a life of uneven rewards as she begins to hear footsteps from the past sneaking up on her. Is it too late to start over? Revealing the truth of her missteps would shatter the present and demand answers to painful questions. She has betrayed her In her private memoir, Theresa Alston Crandall reflects on family secrets she has held for forty years. Her duplicity has created a life of uneven rewards as she begins to hear footsteps from the past sneaking up on her. Is it too late to start over? Revealing the truth of her missteps would shatter the present and demand answers to painful questions. She has betrayed her husband and sons, causing them to be unsuspecting players in her orchestrated deception. Theresa spends time at Whimsy Towers, the oceanfront home she inherited from a grandmother she never knew. Poetry, parties, good food, and gratitude fill the summer days, allowing Theresa to maintain a careful charade. Whimsy Towers holds her secrets, until her safety from exposure gradually unravels. The mysterious death of her son requires Theresa to confront a host of unresolved problems, a twisted accumulation of love and lies. From Cape Cod to Alexandria, Virginia, and St. Michaels, Maryland, new relationships develop. Through losing and finding love, she redefines family.


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In her private memoir, Theresa Alston Crandall reflects on family secrets she has held for forty years. Her duplicity has created a life of uneven rewards as she begins to hear footsteps from the past sneaking up on her. Is it too late to start over? Revealing the truth of her missteps would shatter the present and demand answers to painful questions. She has betrayed her In her private memoir, Theresa Alston Crandall reflects on family secrets she has held for forty years. Her duplicity has created a life of uneven rewards as she begins to hear footsteps from the past sneaking up on her. Is it too late to start over? Revealing the truth of her missteps would shatter the present and demand answers to painful questions. She has betrayed her husband and sons, causing them to be unsuspecting players in her orchestrated deception. Theresa spends time at Whimsy Towers, the oceanfront home she inherited from a grandmother she never knew. Poetry, parties, good food, and gratitude fill the summer days, allowing Theresa to maintain a careful charade. Whimsy Towers holds her secrets, until her safety from exposure gradually unravels. The mysterious death of her son requires Theresa to confront a host of unresolved problems, a twisted accumulation of love and lies. From Cape Cod to Alexandria, Virginia, and St. Michaels, Maryland, new relationships develop. Through losing and finding love, she redefines family.

43 review for Love & Lies: A Secret Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tahera

    There is urgency at Whimsy Towers. Families have crumbled and then risen from the ashes. I am part of that continuity; I feel its pull. We are women who could not stay put, who could not settle, who need passion and purpose. Some women dare to defy and can hold secrets without remorse; some cannot. Love and Lies is a memoir of Theresa and her deep connection with Whimsy Towers, a house that she inherited from her grandmother she never knew and one she is in a habit of visiting every summer fo There is urgency at Whimsy Towers. Families have crumbled and then risen from the ashes. I am part of that continuity; I feel its pull. We are women who could not stay put, who could not settle, who need passion and purpose. Some women dare to defy and can hold secrets without remorse; some cannot. Love and Lies is a memoir of Theresa and her deep connection with Whimsy Towers, a house that she inherited from her grandmother she never knew and one she is in a habit of visiting every summer for the past forty years. This house has seen life unfold--a life which is filled with secrets and deceit. She has kept this deceit and betrayal well hidden from both her husband Kevin and her three sons for so many years. But now the untimely death of her youngest son David can become the cause for her well kept deception to unravel and she is not sure if she is ready to face the consequences  since it will surely lead her to lose the one thing that she always wanted & loved and was willing to start on this path of lies for--her family. I am not sure if I liked the character of Theresa and the excuses she made for the life she has led. She talks a lot about being a strong and daring woman but I didn't find her to be either. Instead I found her to be selfish. She knows that she is in the wrong for leading her husband and children on with her lies and deceit but she is alright with seeing her family bear direct/indirect repercussions from it rather than be brave and own up. The only character that I liked was Theresa's housekeeper who I felt defined more what a strong and daring woman--a true survivor--should be like. My thanks to NetGalley, the publisher Secant Publication and the author Ann Hymes for the e-Arc of the book. The book was published on May 15, 2020.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    I was really looking forward to reading this story. Theresa uses poetry and philosophy to get through sorrows in her life. She inherited Whimsy Towers, a generational home in Chatham from her father when he passed away. Her family summers there. The story revolves around the home. Theresa is married to Kevin and has an affair with a widowed man. Kevin and Theresa have 3 boys. The boys grow up and have interesting lives. I did not like Theresa. She is a very selfish woman. I started getting tired I was really looking forward to reading this story. Theresa uses poetry and philosophy to get through sorrows in her life. She inherited Whimsy Towers, a generational home in Chatham from her father when he passed away. Her family summers there. The story revolves around the home. Theresa is married to Kevin and has an affair with a widowed man. Kevin and Theresa have 3 boys. The boys grow up and have interesting lives. I did not like Theresa. She is a very selfish woman. I started getting tired of her and her problems half-way through the story. So happy to be finished!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Daniel

    “A woman who is bored with her life sees possibilities in others’” Description: This is the memoir/story of Theresa and a generational home called Whimsy Towers in Chatham that she inherited. Theresa reflects on family secrets while at her time at Whimsy Towers. She feels she has lead a double life, hiding her real feelings throughout her life. The mysterious death of her son requires Theresa to confront a host of unresolved problems, a twisted accumulation of love and lies. From Cape Cod to Alexa “A woman who is bored with her life sees possibilities in others’” Description: This is the memoir/story of Theresa and a generational home called Whimsy Towers in Chatham that she inherited. Theresa reflects on family secrets while at her time at Whimsy Towers. She feels she has lead a double life, hiding her real feelings throughout her life. The mysterious death of her son requires Theresa to confront a host of unresolved problems, a twisted accumulation of love and lies. From Cape Cod to Alexandria, Virginia, and St. Michaels, Maryland, new relationships develop. Through losing and finding love, she redefines family. The Breakdown: I found this book slow to begin and at times confusing. With the different generations sometimes the story lines and the jumps between past and present were hard to keep them all straight. This book was made up of regret, secrets, lies and betrayal. I had wished for more character and relationship development in the book to really give the reader a better understanding of the emotions the author was trying to bring forth. Mostly I found Theresa to be very selfish, which made it hard to empathise with her character. Overall, I found this book hard to begin. Although I did not always enjoy Theresa I understood why with her. This book did allow for some moments of realization that made you want to evaluate your personal life more. ⭐⭐💫/5 Thank you Netgalley, Ann Hymes, Secant publications for the ARC.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Little

    I was excited to read this book based off of the description but the odd twists in the book made me sour towards the characters. I felt that I did not connect with Theresa the main character. I loved some of her family members like Kev, and Brad, or Razor. I lost interest in Theresa when she lies to every single person in her life and was very upset when her husband fades off into the night. I liked her and Razors pairing but overall had a hard time getting into the book and couldn’t truly enjoy I was excited to read this book based off of the description but the odd twists in the book made me sour towards the characters. I felt that I did not connect with Theresa the main character. I loved some of her family members like Kev, and Brad, or Razor. I lost interest in Theresa when she lies to every single person in her life and was very upset when her husband fades off into the night. I liked her and Razors pairing but overall had a hard time getting into the book and couldn’t truly enjoy it. I believe this book would be best enjoyed by hopeless romantics, those who can see the good in anyone, or anyone looking for a great memoir.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Laura Richardson

    This book details the life of Theresa and the secrets she has kept over her years as a wife and mother of three whilst the unexpected death of a loved one leads her to examine past mistakes. I enjoyed the way the book was written and the addition of poetry and songs. For me I would have preferred a bit more depth to the mistakes Theresa pondered. The story flowed nicely but I was unsure of where it was headed even at the end. There were avenues unexplored which could have been opened up a bit mor This book details the life of Theresa and the secrets she has kept over her years as a wife and mother of three whilst the unexpected death of a loved one leads her to examine past mistakes. I enjoyed the way the book was written and the addition of poetry and songs. For me I would have preferred a bit more depth to the mistakes Theresa pondered. The story flowed nicely but I was unsure of where it was headed even at the end. There were avenues unexplored which could have been opened up a bit more for me.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Vivi

    I was really looking forward to reading this story. I liked the style of writing and the way that it went from past to present but there was just so much going on that I got lost. I would like to thank NetGalley for my ARC in exchange for an honest review. Book Buzz Blog | Book Buzz Facebook | Book Buzz Instagram I was really looking forward to reading this story. I liked the style of writing and the way that it went from past to present but there was just so much going on that I got lost. I would like to thank NetGalley for my ARC in exchange for an honest review. Book Buzz Blog | Book Buzz Facebook | Book Buzz Instagram

  7. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    A wonderful well written novel. Good characters and good plot development.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mary-reeta

    First book by Ann Hymes that I have read and am not disappointed.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Connor

    Ann Hymes is a classmate of mine and I’ve enjoyed the writing she has shared. I was excited to read this book and quickly snapped it up when it became available on Netgalley. From the start, I was impressed by Ann’s turns of phrase, life observations, and bits of wisdom. It is told from the first-person POV of Theresa, who was mostly likable, but at times had me very frustrated. Several stood out to me: Whimsey Towers is not only a very real place for Theresa, but also a metaphor for the independ Ann Hymes is a classmate of mine and I’ve enjoyed the writing she has shared. I was excited to read this book and quickly snapped it up when it became available on Netgalley. From the start, I was impressed by Ann’s turns of phrase, life observations, and bits of wisdom. It is told from the first-person POV of Theresa, who was mostly likable, but at times had me very frustrated. Several stood out to me: Whimsey Towers is not only a very real place for Theresa, but also a metaphor for the independence and free-thinking that she so values. It is a place that holds secrets along with memories of love, some of it illicit. She compares herself to Theodesia, her grandmother, a woman who refused to conform to expectations. At one point, she remarks that “relationships with men are harder for women without broken wings,” almost as if making an excuse for her own difficulties. She loves Whimsey Towers almost as much as any person in her life, at times giving the place too much importance. She seems to see it as the source of her being, a place without which she would be incomplete. She gives it too much power. “Like the rushing flow of streams that meet and blend, our stories share power that roils and carves its way through the landscape with dogged determination.” On aging, Theresa muses: “Do I yearn for my youth by wishing my children had not left theirs?” And Razor tells her: “Hopefully, you are only older than what is outgrown.” Theresa laments her aging mind, wondering whether she has dementia. She comments on the struggles of Mattie’s mother, observing, “the memories had wandered and lay in her head like exhausted nomads.” She fears a similar fate. She feels herself growing dependent on her sons and it bothers her: “I am torn between wanting to be close and needing space. Communication takes work. I am absent and present in one body, living in duality. Sometimes I cannot finish a sentence because getting to the end requires remembering how it began. I am holding on to strands of normalcy that occasionally slip away. Lapses are infrequent, but I fear what may tumble from my lips.” Another snippet: “Memory is a gift not to be taken for granted. It holds all my yesterdays. I think it's easier to stay in the past, because I know my way there.” One of the female characters, explaining her need/desire for numerous male partners, explains it this way: “My father is a farmer. He is careful to rotate his crops, nourishing the soil to get the best harvest each year. The soil can become stagnate (sic - should be stagnant) and barren if not furnished with fresh nutrients. I am like that soil that needs replenishing.” It may surprise you to find that although I loved many things about this book, there were several things that bothered me. My first complaint was with the pacing. Sometimes the book got too bogged down in description and philosophical conjecture. Additionally, conversations between characters were stilted and unnatural. And I never got a really good sense of why the men in Theresa’s life loved her. Presumably, there was something special about her, something magnetic that drew men to her, but as the reader, I never felt privy to what that special thing was. The only thing I felt privy to was her conflicted sense of guilt over the lies she had told in her life as well as her fears of growing older, both mentally and physically. She was tortured by regret and haunted by what-ifs. Given the opportunity to unburden herself, her initial response was to hold her secrets even closer and even pretend she didn’t have any, but this was after numerous personal reflections on her desire to confess to someone. I was surprised by her resistance to confiding in someone and I found it difficult to relate to her pain because she’d been provided with an opportunity to share her load with someone who loved her. In the final analysis, I enjoyed the book. I enjoyed the writing. I didn’t relate to Theresa or find her particularly sympathetic as a character and I felt conversations, in general, were unnatural and contrived. As far as philosophical observations go, this book had some great ones.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bárbara Ribeiro

    This book takes us to an old house down by the beach, a house full of stories and family secrets, this concept was very interesting, our main character is a woman in her early seventies, Theresa, and shares with the reader the story that connects all the good and bad decisions she has made over the years, why she made them and how her life turned out because of them. Theresa is highly influenced by her upbringing and the stories of her grandmother, a woman that never seized to want adventure and This book takes us to an old house down by the beach, a house full of stories and family secrets, this concept was very interesting, our main character is a woman in her early seventies, Theresa, and shares with the reader the story that connects all the good and bad decisions she has made over the years, why she made them and how her life turned out because of them. Theresa is highly influenced by her upbringing and the stories of her grandmother, a woman that never seized to want adventure and novelty in her life. Throughout the book we get to know the rest of the family and secrets they keep as well. Theresa is an interesting character when it comes to the way she sees the world, and the wanting for more even though she is no longer in her younger years, I can see how this point of view can draw in readers that are in similar situations in life, either because of their age or because of the events Theresa and the rest of the family experience throughout the plot. My experience reading this book was not what I had expected, I didn't think it had a very well thought out plot, and the character development throughout the book felt rushed, it didn't feel like I was reading about the story of a real family with real people, which is what I suppose the intention was, since the subtitle it's "a secret memoir". I hope I will love other books by Ann, but this one just wasn't for my liking.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brittany Edwards

    I was really looking forward to this story since it seemed to have all of the great plot elements I love- family secrets, love lost & found, a beautiful setting. However, I found the writing to be very heavy. The main character is a lover of poetry and philosophy and I felt that every paragraph was an epiphany. It was like reading Shakespeare where I knew there was beauty in the story I just had to bring my mind back to read the words on the page a few times because it was wordy and deep. I thin I was really looking forward to this story since it seemed to have all of the great plot elements I love- family secrets, love lost & found, a beautiful setting. However, I found the writing to be very heavy. The main character is a lover of poetry and philosophy and I felt that every paragraph was an epiphany. It was like reading Shakespeare where I knew there was beauty in the story I just had to bring my mind back to read the words on the page a few times because it was wordy and deep. I think I was under the impression that this novel was going to be more of an escapist summer read than a true piece of literature as it was. There is a good plot here and there are some great elements in this book, but the main character was unrelatable and the writing was wordy.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Monika

    Love & Lies is a memoir-story of Theresa and her deep dark secrets. This book opened a lot of portals for me, which kinda made me overthink and analyse my decisions. Thats what Theresa does in her memoir. She feels she has lead a double life.. her pain, feel of remorse, her hesitations are penned well by the author. The words are very moving and deep! Thank you NetGalley, author and publisher for the ARC. This review is my own and is not influenced in any way.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    Honestly, I found the number of people involved in the story and the generations, just confusing rather that intriguing. I have no identification with the characters and honestly between all the twists and turns and subplots, I really couldn’t find much to like about it. Thank you Netgalley for this ARC.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    Regret, lies, secrets, and betrayal make up this book. Theresa is a woman who just can't come to terms with what she has done in her past and how it has complicated her present and future. The book is well written, but at times I did struggle with it. So many times I felt too much was written and other times not enough. All in all, an enjoyable read. Regret, lies, secrets, and betrayal make up this book. Theresa is a woman who just can't come to terms with what she has done in her past and how it has complicated her present and future. The book is well written, but at times I did struggle with it. So many times I felt too much was written and other times not enough. All in all, an enjoyable read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    This was an interesting read that was hard to get into for me. I liked the writing style but perhaps the content was not relatable and did not capture my attention. I kept trying to give it a chance as it is a memoir, unfortunately it was not a gripping read for me. Thank you so much Secant Publishing & NetGalley for my complimentary eARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Bannister

    i enjoyed everything about the book there was nothing i didn't like about the book. i like the setting, the writing style, the plot, the plot twists, and the characters in the book were amazing. i would gladly reread it again. i also like the concept of the book. i enjoyed everything about the book there was nothing i didn't like about the book. i like the setting, the writing style, the plot, the plot twists, and the characters in the book were amazing. i would gladly reread it again. i also like the concept of the book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Gracie

  18. 4 out of 5

    Joan

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amber

  21. 4 out of 5

    Elle Belle 💛

  22. 5 out of 5

    Eldritch Reading Reindeer 2021 In Cobwebs

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lesley Kay

  24. 5 out of 5

    Marie

  25. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Wheeler

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jacquelyn

  27. 5 out of 5

    JoTA

  28. 5 out of 5

    Shantel

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kim Ellis

  30. 4 out of 5

    Liz Bowcutt

  31. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

  32. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany

  33. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

  34. 4 out of 5

    Cathy Tilton

  35. 5 out of 5

    Charissa Rate

  36. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Carroll

  37. 4 out of 5

    Karyn Palmer

  38. 4 out of 5

    Judy

  39. 5 out of 5

    Traci

  40. 5 out of 5

    Micielle

  41. 4 out of 5

    Terry

  42. 5 out of 5

    Anita Glover Stevenson

  43. 4 out of 5

    Sammy Allen

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