Half of What You Hear
by Lewis, Kristyn Kusek

"Perfect for fans of Big Little Lies." -Kirkus

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From well-loved women’s fiction writer Kristyn Kusek Lewis comes a breakout novel about a woman moving to a small community and uncovering the many secrets that hide behind closed doors—perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Elin Hilderbrand.

Greyhill, Virginia—refuge of old money, old mansions, and old-fashioned ideas about who belongs and who doesn’t—just got a few new residents. When Bess Warner arrives in town with her husband Cole and their kids, she thinks she knows what to expect. Sure, moving to Cole’s small hometown means she’ll have to live across the street from her mother-in-law, and yes, there’s going to be a lot to learn as they take over Cole’s family’s inn-keeping business, but Bess believes it will be the perfect escape from Washington. She needs it to be. After losing her White House job under a cloud of scandal, she hardly knows who she is anymore.

But Bess quickly discovers that fitting in is easier said than done. Instead of the simpler life she’d banked on, she finds herself preoccupied by barbed questions from gossipy locals and her own worries over how her twins are acclimating at the town’s elite private school. When the opportunity to write an article for the Washington Post’s lifestyle supplement falls into Bess’s lap, she thinks it might finally be her opportunity to find her footing here…even if the subject of the piece is Greyhill’s most notorious resident.

Susannah “Cricket” Lane, fruit of the town’s deepest-rooted family tree, is a special sort of outsider, having just returned to Greyhill from New York after a decades-long hiatus. The long absence has always been the subject of suspicion, not that the eccentric Susannah cares what anyone thinks; as a matter of fact, she seems bent on antagonizing as many people as possible. But is Susannah being sincere with Bess—or is she using their strangely intense interview sessions for her to further an agenda that includes peeling back the layers of Greyhill’s darkest secrets?

As Bess discovers unsettling truths about Susannah and Greyhill at large, ones that bring her into the secrets of prior generations, she begins to learn how difficult it is to start over in a town that runs on talk, and that sometimes, the best way to find yourself is to uncover what everyone around you is hiding....

Bess Warner was a Washington insider until a scandal destroyed her career. Now Bess and her husband, Cole, have relocated to small-town Greyhill, Virginia, to take over the inn that Cole's family has run for decades. It's a dramatic change of pace, and the locals make sure that Bess is abundantly aware of her status as an outsider. Coping with the mother-in-law from hell, her teenage children's growing pains, and a cadre of petty locals-including Cole's ex-makes her first months in town a challenge. When a contact from Washington offers Bess an assignment profiling Susannah Lane, an eccentric local who returned to Greyhill after her husband's death, Bess jumps at the chance. The two become fast friends, sharing their status as Greyhill's most gossiped-about women. But as Susannah opens up to Bess about her past, Bess is forced to confront uncomfortable truths about her new hometown and its residents-including her kindly father-in-law. The ending is neatly constructed, with satisfying redemption for all. Fans of Emily Giffin and Sally Hepworth will appreciate this enjoyable family drama featuring likable characters in challenging situations. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

A former White House employee discovers that her husband's sleepy hometown has more scandals and secrets than Washington. As the social secretary at the White House, Bess Warner worked long hours and dealt closely with the first lady. But when she's humiliatingly fired, she and her husband decide to embrace a slower lifestyle and take over his parents' inn in his tiny hometown of Greyhill, Virginia. What Bess doesn't count on is how hard it will be to fit in as an outsider. Most of her neighbors have known each other their entire lives, and they aren't particularly welcoming to newbies. Struggling to find herself in a new town while her growing kids are shutting her out, Bess wonders what her next career move should be. And then opportunity knocks: A former colleague wants Bess to write a puff piece about Susannah Lane, one of Greyhill's most famous and mysterious residents. As Bess begins to interview Susannah (who also happens to be her father-in-law's high school sweethear t), it becomes clear there are a lot of secrets people in town don't want her to know. The biggest one concerns what happened to Susannah's high school best friend, who died when she stumbled off a cliff. People in town maintain that her death was an accident, but Susannah is convinced there was something more sinister involved. But the longer Bess talks to Susannah—and the more people in town tell her Susannah is crazy—the more Bess starts to suspect that Susannah may have ulterior motives. Can she actually trust what Susannah is telling her? Or is Susannah simply using her to publicize her decades-old grudges? Lewis (Save Me, 2014, etc.) creates a sympathetic heroine as well as a realistic and full cast of characters around her, including Bess' good-natured husband, her critical mother-in-law, and the coterie of adult mean girls who run the town. The fast pace and intriguing mystery make this one perfect for fans of Big Little Lies. A compelling look at the pow e r of small-town gossip. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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