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Interview with Sandra-Jane Goddard, author of The Worst of Lies


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‘The Worst of Lies’ is the sometimes-gritty story of a young couple’s mismatched marriage at a period in time when to have wed the ‘wrong’ person was to be faced with having no choice but to make the most of it.

It takes as its theme the idea that the worst of lies are those we tell for love and follows what can happen when neither the physical nor mental needs of a husband and wife are sustained by their union.

So by way of synopsis:

Set in Hampshire, England in 1829, it follows what happens when seventeen-year old Mary Springer marries George Strong and arrives with him at Summerleas Farm, unaware that he is still obsessed with his erstwhile lover, Annie, the woman now married to his brother. Also unbeknown to her is the fact that resentful of George’s marriage and unhappy in her own, Annie is scheming to rekindle her relationship with him.

Isolated and lonely in her new surroundings, Mary struggles to cope with her husband’s cold and evermore distant behaviour, while for his part, George laments choosing such a young and innocent wife.  So when Annie is widowed by the unexplained death of her brutal husband and a young farm-hand offers Mary the chance to discover what is missing from her life, both Mary and George face dilemmas.

Against a backdrop of the uprisings and unrest sweeping Hampshire in the 1830s, the story of George and Mary’s ill-matched union is a
tale of their search for love and fulfilment, of adultery and betrayal and of the lengths to which some people will go in the name of love.

What genre is it?
Since it’s set in 1829, clearly it’s historical but it might also be described as a family saga with strong elements of romance.

What kind of readers will it appeal to?
I believe it appeals to readers who like to read about tangled relationships, about characters who can be both strong and frail at the same time and who prefer their fiction to be a realistic representation of a period in history rather than a sugar-coated portrayal of it.

Complete this sentence for us: if you like _________________, you’ll love The Worst of Lies.
If you like to read about rural life in the beautiful English countryside at a time when life was simpler but also harsher and if you like flawed but realistic characters who find themselves in complex relationships and gritty situations, then you will enjoy ‘The Worst of

The Worst of Lies is just the first book in this saga, right? So, by the end of it, how will the reader feel?
At the end of the book, I would like readers to feel moved and perhaps even surprised by how they feel.  I’d like them to wish that perhaps the situation could have been different and to care about the characters such that they’d really like to know how things will work out for them in the longer term.

And where does the story go next?
The second book in the series, ‘An Unorthodox Arrangement’, picks up the story ten years on from ‘The Worst of Lies’ and introduces some intriguing new characters and relationships.  And to say any more than that would be to give too much away!

Surely you can tell us something more. Anything.
I am currently around three-quarters of the way into writing the first draft of ‘The Dairymaid’, which is actually the back-story of Annie Strong, one of the main characters in ‘The Worst of Lies.’

When I first started writing about her for ‘The Worst of Lies’, I became drawn to the idea that she had her own story and that the telling of it would help to explain how she became the driven and yet damaged woman she turned into.  Despite her obvious flaws and blind-spots, she’s such a strong woman that I’m really enjoying telling her story.

How are you able to portray 19th century England so realistically?
One of my keen interests is researching my family tree, which I have been doing on and off for around twelve years now and in fact, it was studying my long lines of ancestors and trying to imagine the hardships and triumphs they would have experienced that first inspired me to write ‘The Worst of Lies’.

Tell us a bit more about yourself.
I was born and raised in Hampshire, southern England but now I live in Malaysia – which couldn’t be more different!

Do you have a website where we can keep up with your work?
You can find out more about me, my writing and my books at

How can we follow you on Twitter and/or Facebook?
I’m on Facebook at:
And you can follow me on twitter at: @theworstoflies

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