Monday, July 6, 2009

Life Sentences by Laura Lippman

In Life Sentences Cassandra Fallows, an author, has an idea for her new book. She's already written three, 2 of which were bestsellers. When she hears an old classmate's name, Calliope Jenkins, mentioned in a news report, she decides to investigate further and use the story in her next book. Callie has spent seven years in prison for killing her child yet has told no one what really happened. While Cassandra searches for Callie, she discovers that you can't always rely on your own memories to find the truth.

In this well-written, suspenseful novel, Laura Lippman examines memory and truth. She illustrates her points using characters who knew each other in grade school and members of the protagonist's own family. It's interesting how individuals remember things differently. I've already encountered this with my own family in that when we reminisce, we discover that we not only remember different details, we remember the events differently. A quick personal example to illustrate my point: Supposedly, when I was very little I fell down the stairs. My sister, who was also very little at the time, remembers this. All I remember is that the little girl in the white dress fell. I have no memory of it being me. Weird, eh?

Anyway, Lippman is a wonderful writer and has created a diverse cast of characters for this novel. Because Cassandra spends considerable time tracking Callie down through old friends and her lawyer. there's not much of a mystery. However, the story will leave you on the edge of your seat waiting to see how it all turns out.

One thing that surprised me in the story was that people didn't come forward or try to contact Cassandra to straighten out the facts once her books were published. I guess that's where truth
comes in. Sometimes the truth is more awful than we want to remember.

For some reason, this book didn't grab me the way Lippman's other books did. I really enjoyed it, but for me something was missing.

Recommended. This wasn't my favourite book from Lippman, but I love her work and will continue to read more of her books. If you'd like to read more of her books, I'd also recommend: What the Dead Know and Another Thing to Fall.

For more information about this book, visit the HarperCollins Canada website. For more information about the author or her other books, please visit Laura Lippman's website.


  1. I've really enjoyed Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan series, but have trouble with each of her stand alone novels. I don't know why this should be -- she's a fine writer.

  2. I agree. The Tess Monaghan books are better than the stand alone ones. Still, I enjoy most of her work.

  3. That's so funny -- I honestly think that her stand alone novels are better than the series. "What the Dead Know" is just excellent and sometimes I have a harder time with the plots in the series. To each his own! :)

  4. This book was my first and only experience reading Lippman and I felt like I kept waiting for something to happen. I might give her another try with one of your recommendations as I was definitely underwhelmed with Life Sentences. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


Thanks so much for your comment. I really appreciate it. Unfortunately, I've been getting lots of spam comments, so I'm turning on word verification to help keep spammers away. I know it's a pain; I don't like it either. Hopefully, in time I'll be able to turn it off again. Thank you!