Gorgeous Lies

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Charismatic therapist Anton Furey is dying, and the tribe he heads–his five children, his wife’s three, and their uniting child, Alice–has returned to Chardin, the farm where they grew up and played out Anton’s vision of communal living. They had been famous for being the new American blended family, their utopian lifestyle chronicled by film crews and reporters.  But as Anton grows weaker, the hurts and betrayels of those years boil to the surface, and the children find themselves reliving their knotty intimacies as they struggle to make their peace with Anton–and themselves. With shimmering prose and an acutely observant eye, McPhee had created a portrait of a family that explores the limits, and obligations, of love.

National Book Award Finalists Readings, 2002

Watch a clip of Martha McPhee, National Book Award Finalist in Fiction, as she reads a selection from her novel, Gorgeous Lies.

Praise for Gorgeous Lies

Martha McPhee’s elegantly written first novel, ”Bright Angel Time” (1997), was a road story with a difference. The narrator, Kate Cooper, recounted her experiences at the age of 8, when her mother, Eve, newly abandoned by her husband, hooked up with an itinerant Gestalt therapist named Anton Furey. It was 1970, and Anton, a former Jesuit from Texas who was ”writing the definitive treatise on the psychology of love,” introduced Eve and her three daughters to ”a new life on the road with his kids, in a turquoise camper…

Bruce Bawer, The New York Times | Read the full review

[McPhee] avoids the extremes of hippie nostalgia and conservative revisionism and doesn’t provide simple answers. Her prose captures the Chardin mood: Elegant and airy, it seems to levitate even the grubbiest details.

The Los Angeles Times Book Review

The greatest strength of Gorgeous Lies is in its multiplicity of perspectives…It’s easy to see why the charismatic figures from BAT will not loosen their grip on this author

The Washington Post Bookworld

Some sentences bulge with lyric images while others are blunt with resentment, wielded like weapons. When McPhee strikes the right rhythm you don’t so much read her prose as live inside it.

The Santa Fe New Mexican

McPhee bring sensitivity and insight to her account…She is an immensely gifted novelist.

The Times Union (Albany, NY)

Deftly depicts individuals dealing with old memories and new problems.

The Dallas Morning News

In Martha McPhee’s Gorgeous Lies (Harcourt), Anton Furey (of McPhee’s acclaimed first novel, Bright Angel Time) is the dying patriarch of a household that includes his own five children by his first wife, his second wife’s three children, and the daughter they have together. Now adults, the Furey-Cooper progeny adore the charismatic Anton, who has molded them into his idea of the perfect American family: intellectually adventurous, spiritually enlightened, emotionally secure….

Cathleen Medwick, O Magazine | Read the full review

An unusually strong novel [that] explores the wild frontier of domestic life.

O Magazine

McPee is a sensuous stylist.


Fine work: a moving portrait of a foolish, full-hearted but impossibly innocent man.

Kirkus Review

How do you figure those remarkable McPhee sisters? Martha McPhee was nominated this year for a National Book Award for her novel “Gorgeous Lies,” published by Harcourt and a sequel to “Bright Angel Time” (Random House). Jenny McPhee’s first novel, “The Center of Things,” has just come out in paperback (Ballantine). Another sister, Laura, is a photographer who collaborated with Jenny and Martha on “Girls: Ordinary Girls and Their Extraordinary Pursuits,” also published by Random House.

The McPhee Sisters by Richard K. Rein

Gorgeous Lies is a lovely meditation on mortality…brilliantly and convincingly done.

Larry McMurtry

I loved this book. A genuine work of art…And Martha McPhee plainly ranks as one of our country’s best young writers.

Tim O’Brien, author of ‘The Things They Carried

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