Thorns of Truth
Thorns of Truth is the sequel to Garden of Lies. Goudge does a good job of filling the reader in on the events that led up to this story. Still, if I had read the first book, I might have enjoyed Thorns of Truth even more.
Garden of Lies was about Rachel and Rose, two women switched at birth. Thorns of Truth continues their story and continues it into the next generation. As Truth begins, Rachel and Rose have families of their own. Yet only Rose knows the secret of their birth – that she is really the daughter of Rachel’s mother, Sylvie. She is keeping this a secret to protect Rachel. If the secret were revealed, it could affect years of friendship.
Their friendship is also affected when Rose’s son, Drew, decides to marry Rachel’s disturbed daughter, Iris. Rose opposes the impending marriage because she doesn’t think Iris is ready. Other events affect the lives of both families. Rachel is watching her marriage unravel because she has been spending too many hours running her medical clinic, and the recently widowed Rose fights her attraction to a new man in her life. Meanwhile, Sylvie is dying.
The engagement party of Iris and Drew brings discord to many lives. Long-hidden tensions arise between Rachel and Rose, fueled by jealousy. Meanwhile, the pressure mounts because the reader knows that before long, someone will reveal the secret about Rachel and Rose. Once made, this revelation affects the lives of many people. Rachel grew up in a life of privilege with Sylvie, and Rose grew up amid poverty and abuse. Yet both felt out of place. They have a personal history that goes back for years, and at times, their past threatens to destroy their friendship. Though they face big problems, they respond believably in most cases.
Most of the secondary characters are well drawn and important to the story. The only secondary character that I didn’t believe was Sister Alice, the principal of a Catholic school near Rachel’s clinic. She tries to keep her girls innocent by not educating them about sex. I went to Catholic school in the 1970s, and even in those dark ages, we had sex education classes. Besides, the strict, humorless nun is such a cliche.
The subplots were interesting, and Goudge handled the multiple points of view well. The scenes were just the right length, so they didn’t bounce the reader back and forth. One device was a little confusing; sometimes, a scene would start after an event, and then flash back to the event. While this gave insight about the character’s responses, it was also distracting.
This novel integrates the background information from Garden of Lies without impeding the narrative. Still, I got confused now and then. Fans of Garden of Lies will want to read this book to find out what happened to the characters. If you didn’t read the first book, you’ll probably still enjoy this one, though you’ll have some catching up to do. Despite my reservations, I liked Thorns of Truth and how the various relationships were affected over the years by secrets, tragedy, and friendship. This book reminded me that Woman’s Fiction can still be good if it’s done well.