This week I am reviewing All the Wrong Places by Lisa Lieberman, an historical novel that takes place in the forties and fifties. I read this book this past week though I had purchased it in 2018 (I am behind on my reading). I enjoyed the story and the era she evoked through her writing.
A Good Read!
On the front it says “A Cara Walden Mystery” and while Cara Walden is the main character and the story is via her viewpoint, I wouldn’t call it a mystery. The crime happened when Cara was a child and is mentioned throughout the story as a possible accident or maybe a suicide, but murder isn’t mentioned as a possibility until the end.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this book. Lisa Lieberman did an excellent job bringing the era to life. I could see Cara and her adventures in 1950’s England, then Italy, and France as she matured and tried to establish herself as an actress. Cara is the child of a famous actress known for her exceptional beauty and an equally famous director. Her brother is a screenwriter. So of course, she can’t imagine a life outside of the movie industry. She had already started acting before she was seventeen.
The story starts with Cara’s arrival in England with her brother, Gray, and family friend, Geoffrey (who is British). Geoffrey becomes more upper-class British each day, while Gray drinks more heavily. Even though Cara is only seventeen, she lives in London with Gray and Geoffrey as if an adult, going to bars and clubs, having parties, and acting, even singing in a bar.
But it is all not just parties and drinking, they come face to face with the racial tensions in London, sexual assault, McCarthyism, and class differences. So Lisa Lieberman takes on some serious issues, but weaves them expertly through the story. Additional themes come up when Cara is in Italy for a movie part. The effects of World War II on Italy, Communism, Fascism, and poverty are all covered, as Cara matures and learns more about the real world without the insulation provided by the movie world.
Lisa Lieberman’s exacting research on this era was excellent, encompassing events in the United States, England, Italy (specifically Sicily), Monaco and France. All the Wrong Places is an excellent historical novel that takes on an era that is often viewed through rosie tinted glasses, ignoring the social issues of the time. This book tackles them, not in a “in your face” fashion, but softly as Cara becomes aware of them and is changed by them. While this was not the mystery that I was expecting, it was still an excellent and enjoyable read.
5 stars *****