When Jack meets Cherry, they bond over a mutual love of literature and the outdoors, but head their separate ways. Keeping in touch through letters, they learn more about each other, and themselves, than they ever imagined.
This is an epic story about Jack’s life, reflecting on moments in his childhood, growing up with an autistic brother and distant mother, the pressures of school and the expectations placed on him, right through to his adult life. Making new friends, learning more about old friends and discovering some surprises in himself as he does so, we are taken into the depths of Jack’s thoughts through it all. But is he a reliable narrator?
Broken into chapters that mirror the creatures in the world of fly fishing, it is clear that the author has a passionate love of this sport and the outdoors, using this as a tool to challenge his readers’ preconceptions.
A novel based on the events of French’s childhood, Menagerie of False Truths is semi-autobiographical, yet at times completely unbelievable. They say that truth is often stranger than fiction and, at times, that is absolutely true in this book.
I love to lose myself in a novel but I found it quite difficult to do that with this one. Set in Jack’s adulthood, there are regular jumps back to various points in his childhood, letters, essays and other characters’ perspectives. This writing style makes the whole book somewhat unnerving.
Yet, at the same time, that acts as a strong draw card.
This discomfort is a positive in many ways. It is what makes this novel stand out from any others, it is what challenges the reader’s way of thinking and the factor that draws them back in – sometimes unwillingly but always with interest. There are engaging moments and one cannot help but be intrigued by the characters and where they are heading. The mismatch of personalities and bizarre relationships are hard to turn your eyes from.
In his matter-of-fact manner, French guides his readers through the life of this character with descriptions that put us right on the spot with him and an uncomfortable edge-of-your-seat feeling.
Menagerie of False Truths is for anyone looking for a new, unexpected book that is different to any other.