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None of This Is True


None of This Is True

Have you ever heard of a “birthday twin”? As you can gather from the name, it’s someone who shares your birthday. Alix Summer realizes quite randomly that she has one on the night of her 45th birthday while enjoying a lovely dinner near her North London home with her real estate agent husband, Nathan. Josie Fair introduces herself to Alix in the ladies’ room; she mentions that today is also her birthday and she is also 45. After some polite chatting, they learn that Josie’s children attended the same school where Alix’s kids currently go. What are the odds?

Alix returns to her table and thinks nothing more of this little exchange until she runs into Josie randomly on a street near their home. Small world, huh? Alix and Nathan live in a lovely house and enjoy a very upper-middle-class lifestyle. She has worked on a podcast about successful women that has done quite well. Lately, though, she has been feeling like she’s ready for a new challenge. Perhaps she should do another podcast. But what subject should she take on next?

"Fast-paced and ominous... Jewell weaves a compellingly creepy tale that will haunt readers long after they have closed the book."

After running into her “birthday twin,” Josie suggests herself as the subject of Alix’s next podcast: “[H]ave you ever thought about doing a podcast about someone who’s about to change their life rather than someone who already has?... My husband is…He’s very complicated. And our family life has been quite traumatic at times and…if I don’t break free of the past now, then when will I?”

Compared to Alix’s charmed life, Josie’s is anything but. Married to Walter since she was 18 and he was 45 (trigger warning for grooming), with two daughters --- each plagued with their own serious issues --- Josie spends her days working as a seamstress with little to no contact with anyone other than her husband and problematic mother. Josie confides in her new friend: “I’ve just...lost my way. Or in fact, I’m starting to realize, I never even had a way in the first place. I handed my life over to Walter when I was a child and never gave myself the chance to find out who I really was.” Alix responds, “It’s not too late for you to find out…. Let’s start right now.” Because Josie envies everything about Alix and her life, she decides to open up to her on the podcast.

As perfect as Alix’s life appears to be, it’s not without its own struggles. Nathan is prone to periodic drinking benders, where he won’t come home or answer texts or calls. Alix has tried to talk to him about it, but after each incident, he’s contrite and kind, swearing it will never happen again. She wants to believe him because she does love him and the life they’ve built together. Call it altruism or boredom, but Alix can see that Josie is in desperate need of help, and maybe working on this podcast project could benefit them both.

“Her project feels simultaneously thrilling and terrifying. She has opened a physical and metaphorical door to this woman, a pure stranger; she has brought her into her home, made her feel that she is somehow party to Alix’s inner life. She takes full responsibility for anything untoward that may happen to her or her family as a result.”

Little does Alix know how this project will come to upend her entire life.

So sets the scene for Lisa Jewell’s latest menacing thriller about two women in midlife whose paths cross in dangerous alignment --- and with deadly results. Fast-paced and ominous, NONE OF THIS IS TRUE jumps from the past to the present and is peppered with scenes from an upcoming true-crime documentary involving both Alix and Josie, as readers race to the nightmarish conclusion.

With shades of Patricia Highsmith’s STRANGERS ON A TRAIN and THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY, and Gail Honeyman’s ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE, Jewell weaves a compellingly creepy tale that will haunt readers long after they have closed the book.

Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller on August 11, 2023

None of This Is True
by Lisa Jewell