A Book of Untruths
A memoir by Miranda Doyle

"Steamy" - the truth behind Lie 16

Explore extra material and alternative opinions relating to chapter sixteen of A Book of Untruths, a memoir by Miranda Doyle.


- The truth behind lie 16? -


In Lie 16 my mother tells me that she has found a love letter to Dad from a German tour guide we both knew. Renata would have been one of the very last women I would have suspected him of sleeping with.  She was an emancipated German, who kept a mileometer on her bike to calculate her accumulated mileage. 

And read what Renata had to say...

Dear Miranda,

In autumn of 1992, I had to undergo a difficult operation on my knee, which kept me out of school for half a year. I told Maureen and John of it, and it was during that time that John called me one night. I must have been lonely and depressed, what with the stainless steel poles sticking out of my leg as in some horror movie and the fact that since 1990 I had been without a ‘significant other’, anyway, it was me who asked for John’s address at his institute, so I could write letters to him personally. And that is how it started. A bit of reminiscences about Cyprus, making more out of it than it had really been, and we were lodged on a course of love letters.

The time between summer 1993 and Easter 1994 we wrote lots of steamy letters and John also called me very often from their flat in Glasgow. That the whole affair was quite beyond reality showed at our next meeting in Cornwall. We didn’t quarrel, but I realized quite a few things I didn’t like about John, not least his lack of interest in anything I told him of my own life.

You also asked me to tell you what I thought of John, how I saw him. Well, from the beginning he fascinated me by his conversational powers. That may have been, in fact, what attracted him to me, because it was so obvious that I loved to talk to him, even loved to just listen to him. Even then, I subconsciously recorded that Maureen was not as fascinated by his stories as I. She must long before have come to realize what I only realized in Cornwall: that John loved to talk rather than to listen to what others were saying. Still, he had a lot to say, said it well and was a very amusing and entertaining friend. If that sounds shallow – bear in mind that we didn’t have a really intimate relationship. Just a short affair.

II was the time when Maureen got so very much involved in church affairs, which seems to have caused arguments between them. I am rather suspicious of organized church myself, so I presented a suitable conversation partner in that respect. Which, of course, doesn’t explain all of it.