Book Review: HONESTY AND LIES by Eloise Williams (Middle Grade Monday)

I received an ARC from the publisher as part of an upcoming blog tour in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in gold on blue flanked by graphic of two girls in maid's caps
Genre: Historical
Age Range: MG
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: standalone


Book cover for HONESTY AND LIES: title in gold on wintry scene with two girls in maids uniform holding a platter of food

London 1601.

At Queen Elizabeth I’s court, storyteller Honesty, seeking fame and fortune, joins Alice, as a maid at Greenwich Palace. Honesty looks for attention while Alice must stay invisible.

What is Alice hiding? In a world of treason and secrets, can they both survive?

Blurb adapted from proof copy. Add to your Goodreads shelves here. Read a guest post by Eloise Williams about the time period here.


HONESTY AND LIES is a lovely historical about the strains put on friendship by luck and lies.

The book is set in and around London and the court of Elizabeth I over the Twelfth Night festivities. I loved seeing the lost palace of Greenwich brought to life. It felt very familiar (I am a regular at Hampton Court Palace) with lots of research clearly done into how different levels of society lived atop one of each other – with some in ignorance of the others’ lives. I also loved seeing my part of London (south bank around the Globe) brought to life. Plus Shakespeare is booked to perform his new play, written for the festivities…

Honesty and Alice are very different girls. Despite her name, Honesty is a yarn-spinner, mostly for entertainment. She’s also very worldly in some ways but very naïve in others, which leads to a sense on entitlement that drives a wedge between her and Alice. You understand why she feels entitled to the attention and luxury, but also that it’s temporary as through her you see the inconstancy of the fickle court, the spite and damage caused.

Alice is the opposite, keeping to the shadows in order to keep her secrets and keep safe. It means she withdraws from people, making it hard to make and keep friendships. She does the work that others don’t do in order to stay invisible, and that leads to resentment. And that resentment also poisons relationships.

I liked that both girls were equally at fault for the relationship issues and both had to change and confront matters in order to rescue it. However, as I am more of an Alice than an Honesty, I was more on Alice’s side! I suspect that different people will lean more towards one than the other depending on how much of themselves they see in the girls.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s