Inspiration for the book
I was twenty-five years old when the idea of writing The Care and Management of Lies first began to form in my mind—some twenty years before I wrote my first novel. At the time I worked for an academic publishing company, but at weekends I worked on a friend's stall on London's Portobello Road market. It was during one of my expeditions to find more stock for the stall that I came across what at first glance appeared to be a book on household management. It was battered and well-used, with the cover just about hanging on by a few threads of binding. I have always enjoyed such old books , but this one—The Woman's Book, first published in 1911—was different. Yes, it had all the hallmarks of a tome meant for the housewife to be, but there was so much more. It was about demonstrating the very best of womanhood in all domains of endeavor.
More than anything it was the inscription that made me linger, for the book had been given to a young woman on the occasion of her wedding in July 1914—just before the outbreak of what became known as the Great War. I literally held my breath as I wondered if the bride's husband went off to war within months of the wedding. Had she been widowed? What happened to this young woman who had walked up the aisle on her father's arm, filled with hope for her new marriage? What of her family, and friends—how did they fare? The book was given at a time of optimism during a wonderful, hot summer. Then the world was changed almost overnight.
At that point in my life, only in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would ever be a published author, yet I knew I would one day write about the bride and her husband. The kindling was laid by my curiosity, and over the years I held a match to the story, giving the woman my great-grandmother's name. She goes to live on her husband's farm in Kent—it would always be Kent, for it's where I'm from, and where part of my heart will always reside—and then, within months of marriage, he goes to war.
I wrote The Care and Management of Lies because I wanted to tell the story of a woman who was given a copy of The Woman's Book as a wedding gift on the eve of what would become arguably the twentieth century's most terrible war. I hope I've done her story justice.