A year or so ago I was at my favourite writing retreat and met fellow guest Rebecca Whitney, who was working on what would become The Liar’s Chair. Sat in front of the fire clutching a glass of wine, I listened rapt as she read an extract. I remember being consumed by the desire to know what happened next. Now finished and published by Pan Macmillan I have my answer.
The Liar’s Chair is the story of Rachel Teller, a prosperous businesswoman who accidentally kills a man in a hit and run incident. It is a taut, gripping plot, with controlling husband David covering up the accident and insisting Rachel and he pretend nothing has happened. But this one act of violence sends fissures across the meticulously cultivated veneer of Rachel ‘s seemingly perfect life, and arouses her husband’s darker side.
I got in the bath to start reading this book and didn’t get out until I’d finished. Wrinkled like a prune and having emptied the boiler of hot water, I was fascinated by Rachel and her plight. But more than simply a tense page-turner, The Liar’s Chair is a stunning psychological profile of a character. Whitney delves through the shadows of Rachel’s life to bring the reader an extraordinary understanding of the woman we meet on the first page. Rachel is a troubled character and I’ve seen a few reviews sighting her as unlikeable, but I think we should be wary of damning protagonists on their likability. This is not a popularity contest, and all too often the question of likeability is only raised in regards to female writers and female protagonists: so unused are we to seeing real representations of women. Rachel is not a two dimensional portrait, but a complex, augmented, fully-formed person. She is very very real. Something I hope we see more of when it comes to female characters.
If you’re in the mood for a pacey psychological thriller, and don’t mind abandoning your plans for the day, then I’d recommend The Liar’s Chair.
The Liar’s Chair by Rebecca Whitney: dark, startling and compelling 4/5