Online Reviews - Let Us Be True
Reviewed by: Reviews from readers around the internet
"Erna Buffie's first novel is an engaging and often haunting look at a damaged family trying to cope with Pearl, an elderly headstrong, demanding matriarch who resides, indomitable and implacable, smack in the center of the family circle. Five female characters, including two daughters, and a husband (recently deceased) circle through Pearl's life - from the end of the second world war to the present. All the characters, including Pearl are multi-layered with compelling stories. Each person, in their own way, is looking for a resolution of some kind with Pearl; and whether they are aware of it or not, for love, for forgiveness and the ability to forgive themselves and each other for past events. The writing is superb." - Pandora
"A lovely book - painful and warm, dark and bright. The multiple characters are drawn with generosity and sympathy for both their flaws and their strengths. The story starts small and becomes strangely epic as each character is placed into a narrative that they will never fully apprehend. You will be left wondering about the lost stories in your own family at the end of the book - and how your own life has been shaped by the figures in the background of an old black and white photo. A pleasure to read from the first page to the last." - A. Forbis
"This is a terrific book. The author takes you into the world of characters so vividly that they continue to live in your head long after you have put the book down. The writing and the structuring is intelligent and engaging, often surprising so just when you think you know where you are headed Buffie takes a sharp turn that startles you, keeps you on your toes and draws you even deeper into the drama.
I look forward to her next book." - Gwynne Basen
"Loved this book. It connects on so many levels. Being a women, having a sister, not understanding my mom. A must read." - Amazon Customer
"It hooked me from the beginning and I picked it up every chance I got. The characters and settings are so real . . . or true! Congratulations Erna Buffie!" - Tanya Morrison
"Wonderful, humane story filled with a lot of humour and clear, crisp writing. The characters draw you into their lives. Each one is so strong and yet so vulnerable. It's a great book, rich and deep enough to return to, again and again. Very much look forward to the author's future work." - Brian Duchscherer
"This is a great read, from the gripping first scenes on the battlefields of Europe, to the internal battle zones within the characters, and between those who are either in search of a particular truth, or trying to run away from it. The book wonderfully illustrates how dysfunction resulting from war creates generations of people who hold repressed anger, fear, violence and misunderstanding. The further I read, the more I found myself feeling compassion towards the damaged individuals, especially the crusty, defensive Pearl, and her two head-strong daughters, so diametrically opposed in so many ways, and yet finding common ground in their painful search for "what happened." Looking for the truth – or conversely, trying to hide it – as explored from the vantage points of each of the characters, made me feel I was navigating through an intriguing mystery.
Along with the dark side, we also get to see the life-giving and good side of people, too, the richness of life, the bonds of blood, and the kind of love that has no boundaries. The author's lyrical descriptions of the prairies, the earth, the grass, the sky, made me linger over many passages, and added a depth to the metaphors and to the nuances of what the truth really is. This is a rich and engaging book on many levels." - Janice Acton
"This is a fabulous read from start to finish. I quickly got pulled into the hearts and minds of each character through Buffie's sharp dialogue—which is one of the greatest strengths of the book. I fell in love with several characters, which in my mind is the mark of a great writer. She also moves us from past to present in an effortless way as we begin to piece together all the complexities of the main character, Pearl, through the people in her life, alive and dead." - Nina Levitt
"A riveting story that gets under the skins of its characters and makes you laugh and cry, because it so vividly shows how vulnerable, how captive people are to their attitudes and ideas about how things should be but seldom are. Couldn't put it down." - bruce erskine
"Loved this book! Couldn't put it down, had me from beginning to end. I especially loved the dynamics of the mother daughter relationships woven throughout the story." - sue siri
"Erna Buffie's wonderfully perceptive story explores the fabric of damaged family emotions. Following the members of two families over three generations, Buffie charts an erratic but revealing course with flashbacks to World War II, flash-forwards to the present and side trips in between. Pearl, the emotionally difficult central character is wife, daughter, mother, sister, niece to the other characters. Starting with the loss of her sweetheart in the war, Pearl suffers a series of emotional wounds. She buries her pain under a carapace which keeps those who care for her out and locks her inside. The genius of this book is Buffie's adroit peeling away of the layers to arrive at a resolution for Pearl at the end of her life. My own grandmother loomed large while reading this lovely book. Also I was charmed by the choice of the name, Pearl. Definitely worth a reread." - Gerry Bergeron
"One of the best books I have read for a long time..
Original and spell binding!" - Karen
"A very thoughtful book, Let Us Be True examines a family that has been burdened with the weight of its secrets." - Amazon Customer
"This is a masterfully crafted story. The writing is crisp and resonant. We come to care deeply about the characters, despite and especially because of their flaws. Pearl Calder is a Canadian Olive Kitteridge--Let Us Be True is highly recommended for fans of that Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. (Interestingly enough, the similarly mild-mannered, kind, devoted husband is also named Henry.) Like Elizabeth Strout, Buffie excels at detailed descriptions. Her depiction of a prairie thunderstorm is perfection, poetic and precise. Moving and full of compassion, this is an exceptionally strong debut. I can hardly wait for Erna Buffie's next novel." - Amazon Customer
"You'll know you're in the hands of a wonderful storyteller within minutes of opening the covers of this gripping page turner and first novel. "Let Us Be True" is told from a number of different character perspectives which deepens and broadens the story being told. The writing is consistently strong, precise, and searing, with vivid descriptions and exceptional character development. You won't be able to put it down, and when you do, you'll want to reach for another title by this writer to watch for." - Amazon Customer
"It hooked me from the beginning and I picked it up every chance I got. The characters and settings are so real . . . or true! Congratulations Erna Buffie!" - Tanyeo
"I'm so glad I discovered this novel! Beautiful and haunting. I won't soon forget Pearl and her daughters and the secrets that have caused such pain for their family. Some of the passages I liked best:
Darlene thinks of her mother as 'an irritant that had rolled itself into something hard and round and opaque but not smooth. More like a freshwater pearl: irregular and covered in ridges.'
'How many regrets could one person live with before she simply gave up and died?'
Carol discovering her teenage diary and the note her mother has left in it for her.
There are many other lines I could quote but I'll stop here with this one, about the 'wild and wide-open beauty' and the 'sudden cruelty' of the prairies.
This is a powerful debut novel and I recommend it highly." - Sarah Emsley
"A beautifully Canadian novel reminiscent of Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel and a memorable work in its own right. Toggling between the World War of 1944 and modern day 2000, the novel held me in its grip from the first page to the last — I read the book in one wonderful sitting.
Marriage, love, sisterhood and family secrets all speak their truth in this not-to-be-misssed novel that is populated by a range of intriguing characters." - Lisa Nikolits
"Very enjoyable read, compelling characters and story. All about the women, I am curious about Pearl's husband Henry. Next book! :)" - Alexa Rosentreter
"Buffie has has created complex characters, who do not immediately win your love, but in the unraveling display the wounds that have broken them and the words that can mend them. In that sense they embody so many families who never seek to look behind the facade of anger or seeming indifference to the scars yet to be healed. Such a search can only end in love." - B. Dickie
"Although the characters in this novel initially seemed unlikeable, as Pearl's story began to unfold one began to feel an affinity for her and an understanding of why she is never able to express love for her husband or her daughters. Only by revealing the pain and tragedy of the past can a family begin to heal and grow in healthy ways.. By the end of the book, I felt hope that Pearls daughters would be able to go forward from their stilted, self-limiting lives into true forgiveness and fulfillment. And I felt like I would very much like to have Pearl for a friend, crusty exterior and all." - Linda
"Loved this book! Couldn't put it down." - Sue
"This is a book about women, their lives, secrets, burdens to bear. Life's a bitch, and here it is in person.
The central character, Pearl, spends the first 204 pages (out of 228) defining the word bitter. The whole world owes her and she's out to collect. There is a single, gratuitous salutation towards her ever pleasant but long-suffering husband that is supposed to pass as her humanity. That's it. And then she reverts to the person most people would prefer root canal work rather than have a coffee with.
Most of the drama comes not from those serendipitous life events that just happen, such as war, disease, accidents. No, the root causes here are the cowardliness of the players, their refusal to tell the truth, face life and most of all, the failure to take ownership of their own mistakes, faults, and flaws.
Now it's true that I am a man, and so being am influenced by my gender based experience. But that doesn't make it right for others to behave badly, and more so, at the expense of other's happiness.
This book left me angry at the character, and grateful to the author." - Jordan
"Enjoyable read- and I wished it went on further so the redemption could happen. Yes, I know it's up to me the reader to fill in the blanks, but sometimes I like to see the whole story unfold in front of me. I liked Pearl, her gruffness to those close to her coupled with her sweetness to casual strangers, like the nurses. I wish I saw more of Henry, who was such a positive influence to all around him. The daughters and their issues added depth to the family but I felt I didn't get a complete view into their lives. The time transitions were smooth and the writing was satisfying." - Karen Lowe
"This is a long overdue review of Let Us Be True, a remarkable debut novel by award-winning film producer Erna Buffie. Drenched in both world and family histories, Buffie's characters navigate a minefield of secrets kept too long and too close, secrets that, once learned, have the power to condemn or redeem. It is a story of husbands and wives, mothers and daughters. Sisters. Beautifully written, with a flair for just the right detail, and with sensitivity to her characters, Buffie achieves the difficult task of making us want to put our arms around Pearl Calder, a hard to like protagonist from a generation of women who endured much and told little. Her daughters inevitably bear the scars resulting from Pearl's secrets and as they are slowly revealed to Darlene and Carol, and the reader, we see how generosity toward one's parents requires a special kind of understanding. And forgiveness. A beautiful book." - Anne
"Loved this beautifully written story." - Patricia lambert