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  • Tracy Sherlock

Book review: Zoe Whittall's The Fake explores life with a pathological liar

The Fake

By Zoe Whittall


Have you ever been taken in by a liar? Even more, perhaps you’ve fallen under the spell of a psychopath – someone who will say and do just about anything for their own personal gain, regardless of who gets hurt in the process.

In The Fake, Canadian author Zoe Whittall presents Cammie, a pathological liar as described above. Cammie is good at her game. She is so seductive, she makes her victims love her and want to do anything for her, until they find out the truth.

This time, the victims are Gibson, a newly divorced, middle-aged guy, who seems nice, but very vulnerable, and Shelby, whose wife has just died, leaving her suffering panic attacks. Gibson, meet Cammie. Instant sexual attraction, love at first sight. Uh oh. Shelby, meet Cammie, instant best-friend who is both super fun, but also very needy. Uh oh again.

One of the best things about The Fake is that readers get a first-person glance into Cammie’s mind in the opening pages of the novel, so all along they know she’s bad news, so much so they want to protect the likeable Shelby and Gibson from falling for Cammie’s deceptions.

The Fake is a fast-paced, complex and shocking story about love, friendship, mental health, vulnerability and everything in between. Readers will root for Gibson and Shelby, while striving to understand just what it is that makes Cammie tick.

Other novels Whittall wrote include The Spectacular, about three generations of women, and The Best Kind of People, about a teacher accused of sexual impropriety, which was shortlisted for the Giller Prize. From Ontario, she is also a TV writer with experience writing for Schitt’s Creek and Degrassi, and has published three poetry books.

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