Truth, Lies and Madness

Truth, Lies and Madness

“Anger ventilated often hurries towards forgiveness, anger concealed often hardens into revenge.” Edward Robert Lytton 1st Earl of Lytton


In a feature in the Times last week, Tamar Cohen reported on the growing infidelity industry: the devices and services designed for people who are desperate to know the truth.  PC’s and mobile phones can be electronically tracked in sophisticated ways; modern supplements to traditional private detective services.  Cohen reports one woman who had been spying on her husband:

“For the past six months, I’ve been asking him if he’s having an affair and he has denied it.  He has made me feel as if I’m going mad.  Now I have proof that he’s been seeing someone.  I know where they go and what they talk about. I’m building up evidence that I can present to the other woman’s husband and then I’m going to hit him with the divorce.  Then we’ll see who’s going mad.”

Does the truth always set you free?  A man had discovered his wife’s infidelity, using technology to access her secret email account: he read all the emails between her and her lover.  The couple decided to try to make a go of their marriage, but the man is unable to forget the explicit detail of their correspondence.  He wishes he’d never read it. He is haunted by the truth.


Honor, in Honor’s Shadow, is haunted by old lies.  Her husband longs for her to forgive and forget his old affair.  She reminds him:

“You see Eliot, it’s like this.  You can deny all you like, and feel hurt that I don’t seem quite convinced.  But you’ve conveniently forgotten something. All the lies you told me in the past. And not just the lies. You said I was paranoid. I knew what I knew, I felt what I felt, and you denied my reality and called me mad.  And I felt mad, completely deranged.  Until I found out that I wasn’t crazy at all, not a bit of it, everything I’d thought, felt and suspected was truer and worse than I could have imagined.  So remember the choices you gave me Eliot? Either I’m a mad woman married to a loyal, true husband, or I’m sane and married to a cheat.  What I want is to know I’m a sane woman married to a man who is loyal and true.  And I can never have that simple thing. So if I don’t know which way is up now, it’s not really surprising is it?”

Honor would find it easier to forgive and forget the infidelity. It’s the lies she can’t live with.


In Tamar Cohen’s new novel The Mistresss-Revenge we see one woman’s descent into heart-broken madness, when her married lover of five years ends their affair.  Both have systematically lied to their partners.  We cannot pity them, only look on as the devastating consequences of their duplicity play out.

What if he promised to love you forever?
What if he told you he’d never leave you?
What if he lied and lied and lied again?
Shouldn’t he be held to account for that?

After all, who doesn’t know a normal, perfectly sane woman who has gone a little crazy when her heart was broken?

Truth and lies.  Too much of either can drive you mad.

4 thoughts on “Truth, Lies and Madness

  1. Thanks for the mention, Voula. Very insightful post. We all think we want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but as Eliot said “humankind cannot bear very much reality”. When it comes to infidelity, surely the most emotionally charged of issues, the truth might set you free, but it will also leave lasting scars. Not much of a choice, is it? Can’t wait for your book!

  2. It seems everyone is at ‘it’. By that I mean writing about infidelity. Recently read Madame Bovary, the original bunny boiler, or should I say lapin chaudiere. Flaubert does paint a terrific picture of the madness of infidelity.

    Anyway bring it on, who wants to read about well adjusted happy people? No, bonkers people struggling with their existence in beautiful surroundings is my fave genre.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.