In “Something She’s Not Telling Us,” author Darcey Bell makes it pretty clear that there are some unreliable narrators telling the story. The main character, Charlotte, appears to have a perfect life. Her husband has made enough money that now he can pursue his passion, theater, and she owns a group of flower shops and gets to spend her days among the beautiful blossoms and heavenly scents of exotic blooms. They have a beautiful daughter, Daisy, and while she does suffer from asthma, it’s under control with her inhaler. So Charlotte and Eli, her husband, are as happy as can be.
Charlotte’s brother, Rocco, on the other hand, is a recovered alcoholic and can’t seem to keep a girlfriend. Charlotte and Rocco’s childhood was far from perfect, and their mother lives in Mexico, and while they do keep in touch with her, they are not close to her. Rocco, especially, has a difficult time with their mother’s past behavior. He currently works for the rich Argentinian billionaire who bought their family farm and now grows organics there.
When Rocco brings home a new girlfriend, Ruth, she seems different from past girlfriends. She adores Daisy — to the point where it makes Charlotte uncomfortable, and perhaps more disturbing to Charlotte is that Daisy seems charmed by Ruth. Early in the story, we learn that Ruth has picked Daisy up from school without telling anyone. No one knows where they are.
And as Charlotte retraces what happened since Ruth entered their lives, we also hear the events from Ruth and from Rocco’s points of view. Interestingly, when Charlotte and Rocco share their points of view, it’s in third person narrative, but when Ruth tells us what’s going on, she’s telling us in first person narrative. That’s what makes it more jarring when we realize that Charlotte has lied, and she isn’t the only one who has been deceitful.
The narrative is interesting because even in third person, Bell writes as if someone, a person, is actually telling the story. Part of that feeling comes because the current part of the story is told in present tense — as it happens. It’s also in the writing style with a conversational narration and not a lot of description. Bell isn’t big on showing readers, she comes right out and tells us what is happening.
But does she tell us what is really happening? We have to put it together and read between the lines to figure out who is telling the truth and when the truth is being spoken. It’s a fun, quick read and one that is a welcome escape from the reality of staying at home.
Please note: This review is based on the final paperback book provided by the publisher, Harper, for review purposes.