Thursday, 24 March 2011

Plain Truth

picoult plain truth

Having quite enjoyed ‘House Rules’ and been recommended ‘Plain Truth’ as another good JP novel to read, I was pleased to find it going very cheaply in the YMCA charity shop last week.

Now I have read it – and Bob has too, so here’s a short review.

This book irritated me intensely!

There- now I have said it – and dozens of people out there are disagreeing I am sure. Plot summary – Ellie is a hot-shot lawyer, late 30’s man-less, child-less, generally burned out and looking for some space to re-evaluate her life. She goes to stay with a relative, Leda.

Katie is a teenage Amish girl – on trial for murdering her new-born baby. Leda is Katie’s aunt [Leda has been ‘shunned’ by the Amish and has ‘married out’] Against her better judgement, Ellie finds herself taking the case. Rather than bail, the judge says Katie can return to the Amish farm, as long as Ellie lives with her, till the trial. 

Ellie stays, puts her own life in order and 99% of the loose ends are neatly tied up by the end of the book. But I remained unsatisfied!

amish farm

In terms of ‘plot’, both Bob and I had sussed out very early on who the ‘guilty’ party was – but neither of us found this credible in terms of our understanding of the Amish.

The father of the baby was a ‘ghost-hunter’ academic, studying the paranormal. All that part of the story didn’t seem to fit [apparently JP has used this ghost device in another book]

The book is rather vague about dates – but there is another pregnancy in the book – and neither Bob nor I were convinced about the timings involved.

The aunt is called Leda – now maybe she changed her name after the Amish put her under the bann – but it strikes me as exceedingly odd to have the name of someone in Greek mythology who was seduced by Zeus. The Amish are not keen on ‘book-learning’ and I think

such a name is rather a strange choice.

I was confused after the Barn Raising – when the leftover food was ‘put away in Tupperware’ – but my internet research suggests that actually the Amish women do hold Tupperware and Pampered Chef parties [that seems quite incredible, but there you go…]

witness kelly and harrisonAlso I felt that Ellie was rather insensitive wearing skimpy tops and shorts on the farm – surely Leda would have warned her that this would really offend the Amish modesty? I remember reading an interview with Kelly McGillis about her preparation for filming “Witness” She said she’d stayed with an Amish family, but had been asked to wear skirts and ‘modest’ dress. [Witness is a fabulous film btw]


  1. There certainly were some oddities in the book, and I felt the ending was a bit engineered.

  2. Oh, I do like an honest book review. I am currently reading Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett) and I am as frustrated with this book as you were with Plain Truth.
    Jane x

  3. I have read comments by very conservative peoples, and they are totally frustrated with the whacked up portrayal of them by non-Amish/non-Mennonite writers. Who could blame them? ~Liz

  4. I haven't read this book but am often irritated by historical/social nonsense in books,films and TV programmes. Even "The Kings Speech" , which I thoroughly enjoyed, was historically a little implausible at times. I can't really imagine the then Duchess of York struggling with an ancient lift all by herself on her first visit to Leonard Logue. Nor can I imagine her or the Duke of York visiting Logue without some sort of security bod in attendance. As for "Downton Abbey"..............!!

  5. Just a quick note to let you know that I made the fruitcake today. It is delicious; moist, tasty....and won't last very long in this house!
    Jane x

  6. I'm so glad this turned out the way it did- I read the first paragraph in shock as I couldn't face the possibility that I might have to disagree with you! I have only read My Sister's Keeper, and thought it was the biggest load of exploitative cop out rubbish. And recently picoult was interviewed (on Radio 4?) and talked about how she uses topical issues as springboards for her novels, but without any wish to form an opinion other than how topical- lucrative?- it might be. Ugh!

  7. I'm sorry this book turned out to be no good. Like a lot of people, I have a fascination with the Amish and would like to read a good novel about them. I started "My Sister's Keeper," but could tell it was going to irritate me, so I stopped.

    I'm disturbed by Annie's comment about "Downton Abbey"--not that I have any reason to think she's wrong, I'm just so in love with it that I hate to think it could be flawed in any way. Sigh ...



Always glad to hear from you - thanks for stopping by!
I am blocking anonymous comments now, due to excessive spam!