The Comfort of Lies
Randy Susan Meyers
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Buy *The Comfort of Lies* by Randy Susan Meyersonline

The Comfort of Lies
Randy Susan Meyers
Washington Square Press
352 pages
January 2014
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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An unexpected pregnancy drives Meyers’ subtle domestic melodrama. Tia knows her romance will change forever after she announces to Nathan she’s pregnant. In a relationship that is becoming increasingly unsustainable, Nathan lets Tia know that he’s already a married father of two. Besotted and wanting Nathan even more, Tia attempts to block thoughts of Nathan’s wife, beautiful Juliette, though she can’t stop thinking of Nathan.

Ignoring his stern warning “to take care of it,” the young unwed mother has the child but gives it up for adoption--a provocative but unsurprising act, considering that Tia is born of working-class Southie stock. Eking out a living working at a senior advocate center, each day Tia fights a battle against caving into her clients’ sadness. Her longtime friend Robin reminds her that she needs something besides drinking with her friends while Tia looks at her only pregnancy photograph, taken just weeks before her mother’s death.

Establishing a link between Tia, Juliette, and Caroline--the adoptive mother of Tia’s daughter--Meyers sets up a provocative scenario, probing the nature of seduction and the motives of a girl desperate to come to terms with her life’s choices. Rather naive for a girl of such streetwise sensibilities, Tia sets off a chain of events forcing Juliette to acknowledge Nathan’s wrongs. Running a successful cosmetic company, Juliette admits that she’s bored with the minutiae of motherhood. Constantly listening for disaster, Juliette must learn to walk a fine balancing act she hopes will pay off.

Something is wrong with Caroline, and it is difficult to measure the degree of her happiness. She loves her life with Peter and she doesn’t want to change anything. But as surely as baby Savannah arrives in Caroline’s life, trouble brews when she receives the baffling offer from Juliette for a free beauty makeover. Caroline shocks herself by scheduling an appointment, desperate to think it might re-ignite her need for Peter. Once so strong, her desire for her husband at first dissipated and has now disappeared entirely.

Tia, Juliette, Caroline and Nathan are drawn into the flow of events beginning with a letter and culminating in a series of lies and misunderstandings. Every party is stunned by the fallout as they retreat into a fog of pretense, grasping for ways to hold onto the brittle illusion that things won’t change. Tia gets caught up in the drama of her own anger, lashing out at Nathan for not being able to commit to her. When she looks back, she wonders how she could have been so naive, her love blinding her to the obvious meaning of words.

Juliette comes to realize that her marriage is a “cognitive dissonance," her loyalty to Nathan colliding with the painful knowledge of Tia. She’s papered over the dark side of her marriage, yet she can’t imagine a life without Nathan. What Caroline can think about are the things that don’t help her function, like Savannah’s constant thirst for her and Peter’s need for a "perfect family." Everything locked inside Caroline gives way, culminating in an unbearable sadness and feeling of failure.

Meyers capably internalizes her characters' issues, presenting a compelling story of motherhood despite her tone tending to the trite. Way over his head, Nathan links the women, driven by his desire to be connected to Tia and to be a loving husband to Juliette. Yet this is really the story of Tia, how she loses her way then rediscovers her true priorities. Giving up her baby proves to never be easy.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Michael Leonard, 2013

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