The Novel Cure: Literary prescriptions for living a lie

Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin, bibliotherapists at the School of Life
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The Independent Culture

Ailment: Living a lie

Cure: Mr Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo

Living a lie might make life easier in the short term but usually means denying a fundamental part of yourself – which is sure to create problems in the long term. Whether the lie springs from being in the wrong career, spending more money than you have, or living with someone you do not love, the shaky foundations on which you build your life will show their cracks eventually.

For the sake of your own future, we urge you to come out of hiding now. Spend time in the company of irresistible Barry, the 'loverman' of Evaristo's joyful novel, and be energised into putting all your cards on the table right now.

When Barrington Walker and Carmel were in their twenties, they were the hottest couple on the dance floor. Both tall, beautiful and graceful, their relationship was the envy of all in their native Antigua. Moving to London and having children seemed to cement their bond – and there, for the next 50 years, Barrington lived a lie. Because since he was 14 in Antigua, he has loved Morris; and Morris – who also married and moved to London – has loved him back.

Gay love being still illegal and socially unacceptable in the Caribbean, however, the two men were never able to express their love openly – and they brought their social strictures with them. Over the years they continued to meet in secret, spending the night together whenever they could; but even when Morris's wife caught them in flagrante, resulting in divorce, Barry still bottled out of declaring himself, unable to face the reactions of his family.

Now in his seventies, Barry teeters on the verge of a confession – and we egg him on, for to the reader it is abundantly clear that his and Morris's lives can finally begin only when the truth comes out. Be inspired by this tale of true love and bravado in the face of cultural contempt, and bring your own secrets into the light of day

thenovelcure.com

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