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Big Lies in a Small Town

An immersing and intriguing tale of two women artists and a 1940 mural depicting life in the small Southern town of Edenton, North Carolina.



Two female artists both work on the same mural over seven decades apart in a small southern town. In 1939, Anna Dale, a young artist living in New Jersey, wins a national competition to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. She travels to NC to learn more about the town and it’s people. There she meets Jesse Williams, a young black art student with tremendous talent. Jesse assists Anna with the mural, but the Jim Crow Southern town folks do not approve of Jesse and Anna working together. She also meets experienced Edenton artist Martin Drapple, who was expected to win the mural competition, but was beat out by this young woman. The town was appalled. Just as Anna was completing the mural something terrible happens and the mural disappears along with Jesse Williams and Anna Dale

In 2018, Morgan Christopher has been released early from prison, for the sole purpose of restoring and completing that same mural started by Anna Dale. Jesse William’s has recently past away but his will specified that Morgan must work on the mural and must have it completed by August 5, 2018. If she meets the deadline she’ll receive $50,000. If not...Anna goes back to prison and Lisa, Jesse daughter will lose her house. Why would Jesse Williams request that Morgan work on the mural? They had never met, and her previous art work was nothing stellar. And to make matters worse she had absolutely no experience in art restoration. What happened to Anna Dale and where had the deteriorating mural been all this time?


Big Lies in a Small Town is an intriguing and immersing tale of two female artists and a mural. It a gripping story of conflict, prejudice, opportunity and is full of art, mystery and intriguing characters. It’s a great page turner. It’s is also a wrenching look at prejudice, alcoholism and mental illness.

Author Diane Chamberlain skillfully transports us back and forth between 2018 and 1940 and the lives, conflict and stress of both Anna and Morgan. My favorite part of the book was the vivid descriptions of the mural making it incredible easy to visualize. I can easily picture the the beautiful colors in the women’s dresses in the center of the mural surrounded by an African American women with her apron full of peanuts, a neat row small cotton mill houses, a lumberjack in the forest, and a fishermen hauling in nets of shiny herring.

Author Diane Chamberlain is a New York Times Best Selling author who has written over 26 novels. Her writing has been influenced by her former career as a social worker and psychotherapist.

Thanks to Netgalley for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Publisher St. Martin’s Press

Published January 14, 2020

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