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A scammer as alluring as she is elusive irrevocably upends the lives of two strangers in this gripping novel from the acclaimed author of The Best Kind of People.
“The genius of Zoe Whittall’s writing is her clear-eyed understanding of human nature, which she lays on the page in beautiful, startling, frank detail. I inhaled The Fake as fast as I could—and haven’t stopped thinking about it since.”—Marissa Stapley, New York Times bestselling author of Lucky
After the death of her wife, Shelby is suffering from prolonged grief. She’s increasingly isolated, irritated by her family’s stoicism and her friends’ reliance on the toxic positivity of self-help culture. Then, in a grief support group, she meets Cammie, who gives her permission to express her most hopeless, hideous feelings. Cammie is charismatic and unlike anyone Shelby has ever met. She’s also recovering from cancer and going through several other calamities. Shelby puts all her energy into helping Cammie thrive—until her intuition tells her that something isn’t right.
Gibson is fresh from divorce, almost forty, and deeply depressed. Then he falls in love with Cammie. Not only is he having the best sex of his life with a woman so attractive he’s stunned she even glanced his way, but he feels truly known for the first time in his life. But Gibson’s friends are wary of Cammie, and eventually he, too, has to admit that all the drama in Cammie’s life can feel a bit over the top.
When Gibson and Shelby meet, they realize Cammie’s stories don’t always add up. In fact, they’re far from the truth. But what kind of a person would lie about having cancer? And what does it say about Shelby and Gibson that they fell for it? From the author of The Best Kind of People and The Spectacular comes a sharp, emotional novel about lies, liars, and the people who love them.
About the Author
Zoe Whittall is the author of four previous novels, including The Spectacular, the Giller-shortlisted The Best Kind of People, the Lambda-winning Holding Still for as Long as Possible, and her debut, Bottle Rocket Hearts. She has published three collections of poetry: The Best Ten Minutes of Your Life, The Emily Valentine Poems, and Precordial Thump. She is also a Canadian Screen Award–winning TV and film writer, with credits on the Baroness von Sketch Show, Schitt’s Creek, Degrassi, and others.
“Zoe Whittall’s gripping new novel, The Fake, upends the expected scammer narrative. Instead of cozying up to the fake herself, we’re caught alongside the two vulnerable people who cling to her as a quick fix for psychic pain. We know this woman who weaponizes false victimhood to get what she wants will only hurt them more, but the story’s irresistible momentum defies us to look away.”—Laura Sims, author of Looker
“The Fake is as witty and sharp as it is humane. I fell in love with these characters, and with the fabulist, fabulous heart that animates Whittall’s writing.”—Jen Silverman, author of We Play Ourselves
“Zoe Whittall has created her most extraordinary, complicated, and lovable characters yet. A beautiful, charismatic liar appears in the lives of vulnerable and grieving people, and her elaborate tales of woe weave everyone into her spell, with tragic results. My perspective on lies and liars has forever changed after reading this book.”—Heather O’Neill, author of When We Lost Our Heads
“A compelling, hypnotic tale about grief, lies, and truth that forces us to examine what it means to trust, to deceive, to take advantage, and to be vulnerable. Whittall’s latest is a terrifyingly honest look at the lies we tell each other and ourselves that moves at a breakneck pace until its heartbreaking yet inevitable conclusion. I simply couldn’t put this book down.”—Alicia Elliott, author of A Mind Spread Out on the Ground
“I devoured this wild ride of a novel about one woman’s outrageous web of lies and the people caught in it. The Fake is a mordantly funny tale, as enthralling as it is emotionally astute.”—Antonia Angress, author of Sirens & Muses
“I read Zoe Whittall’s newest novel in a single fevered page-turning session. At once a romp, a cautionary tale, and a thriller, The Fake taps so deeply into our human foibles, into the many ways that loss and grief can make us vulnerable in both friendship and in love. Whittall’s writing is as sharp and funny as ever. I loved this novel.”—Amy Stuart, author of the Still Mine series
“Cammie is one of my new favorite villains. We have all met a Cammie. Maybe we have even been seduced by one. You will be by this one, and The Fake, Whittall’s live-wire novel that had me turning pages late into the night.”—Jordan Tannahill, author of The Listeners