The Comfort of Lies

A Novel

About The Book

“Happiness at someone else’s expense came at a price. Tia had imagined judgment from the first kiss that she and Nathan shared. All year, she’d waited to be punished for being in love, and in truth, she believed that whatever consequences came her way would be deserved.”

Five years ago, Tia fell into obsessive love with a man she could never have. Married, and the father of two boys, Nathan was unavailable in every way. When she became pregnant, he disappeared, and she gave up her baby for adoption.

Five years ago, Caroline, a dedicated pathologist, reluctantly adopted a baby to please her husband. She prayed her misgivings would disappear; instead, she’s questioning whether she’s cut out for the role of wife and mother.

Five years ago, Juliette considered her life ideal: she had a solid marriage, two beautiful young sons, and a thriving business. Then she discovered Nathan’s affair. He promised he’d never stray again, and she trusted him.

But when Juliette intercepts a letter to her husband from Tia that contains pictures of a child with a deep resemblance to her husband, her world crumbles once more. How could Nathan deny his daughter? And if he’s kept this a secret from her, what else is he hiding? Desperate for the truth, Juliette goes in search of the little girl. And before long, the three women and Nathan are on a collision course with consequences that none of them could have predicted.

Riveting and arresting, The Comfort of Lies explores the collateral damage of infidelity and the dark, private struggles many of us experience but rarely reveal.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Comfort of Lies includes discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

 

Topics & Questions for Discussion 

 
1. Discuss the epigraph of the novel, and whether you agree with this statement. Over the course of the novel, are lies shown to be a comfort to the person telling them or to the person hearing them? In general, do you think that there are situations in which telling the truth provides more comfort to the person delivering it rather than the person hearing it?
 
2. Of the three female protagonists, which did you most identify with, and why?
 
3. As you were reading, did you feel compelled to take sides between Juliette or Tia? Did you empathize more with one or the other?
 
4. On p. 82, Caroline describes her experience of her father’s love, saying, “No one in the family resented that his deepest energies were saved for his work. They didn’t confuse his love and his energy.” Do you think the same kind of parenting style can be as effortlessly achieved by a mother? Must one parent be “stay-at-home” for this to work?
 
5. As a group, read aloud Juliette and Nathan’s argument on p. 129-130. Who did you identify with more in this scene? How is the way that each character handles confrontation illustrative of their personality?
 
6. Discuss the role of religion in the novel. How does it affect Tia and Nathan, in particular?
 
7. Compare and contrast Juliette’s relationship with her mother and her parents’ marriage with what we know about Tia’s mother and father. How does each woman’s model of a romantic partnership affect what she seeks in men?
 
8. Why, in his own words, does Nathan cheat? (You might turn to p. 219 and 252-253.) Do you believe that women cheat for the same reasons as men? Consider Caroline’s relationship with Jonah. Why do you think she stops herself when she does—and did she still cross a boundary she should not have?
 
9. Do you think that “emotional cheating” is ultimately different from physical cheating? What about lying versus “lying by omission”?
 
10. How does each woman respond to stress? Look at specific examples in the text. Who did you most relate to in this way?
 
11. Forgiveness is an undercurrent throughout the novel. Who is seeking forgiveness from whom?
 
12. Consider Nathan’s assessment on p. 252: “Juliette never let go of the why, which seemed to bother her more than the actuality. She searched for a reason that would put his infidelity into a paradigm she could understand and thus prevent from happening ever again. As though if he revealed the truth, she’d then understand how to prevent him from straying.” Do you think that understanding why something happened is necessary to fully forgive what actually happened?
 
13. Turn to Caroline and Peter’s conversation on p. 262. Does the fact that Savannah is adopted affect how Caroline thinks about being a mother—does it make it seem more like a daily choice she must make rather than a state of being?
 
14. Legality aside, do you believe that Tia should have had any right to claim custody of Honor/Savannah? Does Juliette have a right to know Savannah?
 
15. Consider where Tia, Juliette, and Caroline are at the novel’s close. Do they seem somehow better off than they were at the novel’s beginning? Does the old saying “the truth will set you free” apply to these three women?

Enhance Your Book Club

 
 
1. Consider reading Randy Susan Meyers’s first novel, The Murderer’s Daughters, as a group. Compare and contrast the ways that Meyers tackles the issues of guilt and forgiveness in this novel, as well as in The Comfort of Lies. In each book, how does she illustrate the ways that a single action can have repercussions across multiple years and lives?
 
2. For some brief moments in the novel, we hear Nathan’s point of view. Which of the other male characters’ perspectives would you have wanted to read? For example, what do you imagine Peter would say after his conversation with Caroline on p. 226-227?
 
3. Pretend you’re casting the movie version of The Comfort of Lies. Who would play each protagonist? Who would you cast as Nathan?

About The Author

Photograph by Sharona Jacobs

Randy Susan Meyers is the bestselling author of Waisted, Accidents of Marriage, The Comfort of Lies, The Murderer’s Daughters, and The Widow of Wall Street. Her books have twice been finalists for the Mass Book Award and named “Must Read Books” by the Massachusetts Center for the Book. She lives with her husband in Boston, where she teaches writing at the Grub Street Writers’ Center.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (February 12, 2013)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781451673036

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Raves and Reviews

"The characters crackle with both intelligence and wit. Meyers’ women resonate as strong, complicated and conflicted, and the writing flows effortlessly in this sweet yet sassy novel about love, women and motherhood."

– Kirkus Reviews

"Randy Susan Meyers’s second novel is sharp and biting, and sometimes wickedly funny...but it has a lot of heart, too. Meyers writes beautifully about a formerly good marriage ­— the simple joys of stability, the pleasures of veteran intimacy ­— and deftly dissects just how ugly things can get after infidelity. The battles these women fight take place on a small stage, yet they’re anything but trivial: saving a marriage, making a meaningful career, learning to parent. In the end, thanks to Meyers’s astute, sympathetic observation, we want these women to win."

– The Boston Globe

"Meyers has crafted an absorbing and layered drama that explores the complexities of infidelity, forgiveness, and family.”

– Booklist

"Meyers enriches her character development with class and career difficulties, as well as settings involving far differing neighborhoods of Boston. Readers who enjoyed The Memory Keepers Daughter or Jeanette Halen's Matter of Chance, will feel right at home in the anxious pages of Meyer’s captivating novel."

– Library Journal

"Meyers creates three distinct voices, with each woman speaking from a place of pain and strength while navigating complicated emotions in the aftermath of a life-changing event. The alternating perspectives maintain the intensity of the emotions and relationships, leading to the inevitable decision of which is more powerful: the harm caused by dishonesty, or the strength of forgiveness and love."

– Romantic Times

“Meyers delves into the layered facets of motherhood and how children not only shape the fate of their parents, but also manage to sometimes tinker with their emotional balance and sense of judgment."

– Jewish Journal

“Plunging us into the different minds and hearts of these characters, Meyers unearths how their relationships to Savannah are affected in multiple ways. But the author makes every perspective engaging. She conveys their inner and outer lives, and the varying ways they connect with each other and with Savannah, whose head is turned in three directions.”

– Improper Bostonian

“Meyers’ carefully told story is a satisfying examination of the imperfect paths we all walk.”

– BookPage

"Meyers teases out the well-orchestrated plot in a frank, lean narrative written in the alternating voices of the three women...creat[ing] psychologically complex protagonists by imbuing them with contradictions...it's hard to stop turning the pages of this book; much to her credit, Meyers keep us guessing untill the end."

– Winnipeg Free Press

“With The Comfort of Lies, Meyers’ complex characters feel familiar yet flawed, and this sharply-woven tale demonstrates her uncanny ability to explore and illuminate the nuances of life’s most thorny dilemmas.”

– Brooklyn Daily Eagle

"I devoured this big-hearted story of three women whose lives collide years after a baby is put up for adoption. Meyers' wit and wisdom shine through, even when her characters are at their most sorrowful and confused. She writes with insight and compassion, about marriage, forgiveness, work, family and the true meaning of motherhood."

– J. Courtney Sullivan, bestselling author of Maine

"The intertwining and heart-wrenching stories of how three women come to terms with the decisions they’ve made and those yet to make will touch you and stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page. Beautifully written. Strong characters. The Comfort of Lies is a powerful, poignant and riveting novel."

– MJ Rose, international bestselling author

“I devoured this book. Randy Susan Meyers writes with great empathy and insight about three distinct women and the unlikely intersection of their lives. The story will pull you into the uncomfortable space where truths are confronted, and lead you to the other side where the world looks brighter. A sensitive exploration of why we take refuge in the comfort of lies, and what happens when we dare to release ourselves from their power.”

– Shilpi Somaya Gowda, New York Times bestselling author of Secret Daughter

"I spent many blissful, addicted hours with The Comfort of Lies, totally hooked on needing to know what happened next in the braided stories of Tia, Caroline, and Juliette. Meyers has an uncanny ability to get inside women whose circumstances dramatically divide them and show how at heart, we're all the same. Another unforgettable Meyers smash-hit."

– Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us

"A fast-paced multi-narrator story that gets to the heart of the trade-offs of motherhood. You will be drawn in by these characters because of the mystery at the novel's center and relate to the ways in which they each create their own loneliness while surrounded by others."

– Heidi W. Durrow, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

"The Comfort of Lies explores a complex and beautiful web of relationships between three very different women whose lives intersect in startling and heartrending ways. This is my favorite kind of read: a page-turner soaked in empathy with an elegant understanding of the human heart. Randy Susan Meyers is a first rate talent."

– Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty

“Insightful, unsettling, and ultimately hopeful, The Comfort of Lies is a compelling, multilayered story. Randy Susan Meyers skillfully exposes the insecurities and strengths of three women who find their lives forever reshaped in the far-reaching wake of a little girl’s adoption.”

– Beth Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

"Meyers creates three distinct voices, with each woman speaking from a place of pain and strength while navigating complicated emotions in the aftermath of a life-changing event. The alternating perspectives maintain the intensity of the emotions and relationships, leading to the inevitable decision of which is more powerful: the harm caused by dishonesty, or the strength of forgiveness and love."

– Romantic Times

“A novel about love, that explores its meaning with wise restlessness and no easy answers. Profound, clear-sighted and more than a bit slyly funny, this is a book to read, to reread and to share.”

– Robin Black, Author of If I loved you, I would tell you this

"Randy Susan Meyers' thoughtful, gripping new novel explores the unlikely intersection of three women in crisis. The result is a haunting exploration of the secrets we keep - and how, in the aftermath of their detonation, shattered lives can be mended. Meyers is a major talent, and her writing is a gift to readers everywhere."

– Sarak Pekkanen, author of The Best of Us

"A tender, yet sharp portrayal of the messy way three women stumble into each others’ worlds, Meyers explores the lies we tell each other, and maybe more importantly, the ones we tell ourselves. A whip-smart observation of the definition of family and ultimately, what it means to love."

– Amy Hatvany, author of Heart Like Mine

"Randy Susan Meyers' must-read new novel, The Comfort of Lies, resonates with vibrations of love in forms as varied as a symphony: the discordant notes of jealousy, the sweet harmony of soulmates connecting, the high notes of sacrifice and forgiveness—all underscored by the sweeping passion of mother love that is embedded in its heart's core."

– Marianne Leone, author of Jesse, A Mother’s Story

"A roller-coaster of a ride through the world of infidelity, unwed motherhood, and adoption. Randy Susan Meyers’ The Comfort of Lies deftly explores the importance of trust, and the power of love."

– Meg Waite Clayton, bestselling author of The Wednesday Sisters

"With warmth, you-are-there immediacy and impressive insight, Randy Susan Meyers explores both the destructive nature of lies and the redeeming power of hard truths. Every page in this multilayered novel of separate yet entangled lives not only illustrates the accommodations we make for love but also illuminates what it means to be a family. This book is an enormous accomplishment!"

– Mameve Medwed, bestselling author of How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved My Life

"This meaningful novel is, at its heart, a multi-faceted love story. It's about how people do the wrong things for the right reasons and vice versa. This is the story of the ways that families-- bonded by blood and by choice-- can save or slay us. With a vision that is generous, yet unsentimental, The Comfort Of Lies is a testimony to the healing power of the truth."

– Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow

"Randy Susan Meyers plumbs the depth and intricacy of human entanglements, exploring them with a clear eye and compassion for each of her insightfully rendered characters. The Comfort of Lies is a riveting page-turner, conjuring the ways in which we compete with, lay claim to and ultimately love one another.”

– Juliette Fay, author of Shelter Me and Deep Down True

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