We Were Liars is about the Sinclair Family. They summer every year on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts. Perhaps that’s all you need to know.
The heroine of the novel is Cadence Sinclair Eastman. She’s seventeen and the heiress to the family fortune, its expectations, and some of its secrets. Her mother is Penny, and Penny has two sisters, Carrie and Bess. Here’s a scene I wrote about them that got cut from the final version – I just felt it showed too much of the adults, when the teenagers on the island were way more interesting. Still, it lets you in on one of those secrets.
[Cadence talks about Ed, her aunt Carrie’s boyfriend – and how her mother is very popular with men.]
Maybe with her sisters’ men.
Maybe. I don’t know.
It’s just an idea I got a couple years ago, from listening to them talk. Small remarks, slicing into an otherwise pleasant conversation about what to have for dinner, or what time to take the littles out for a boat ride.
The summer we were twelve:
“You want to leave Penny alone with Ed?” Bess says to Carrie, as Ed helps my mother carry shopping bags from the dock up to Clairmont.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Carrie’s voice has edge.
“I’m only joking,” says Bess.
“She is Penny, that’s true,” says Carrie. “Did she remember to buy the Saint-André cheese, do you know?”
“We got that and a Morbier,” says Bess. “And those rosemary crackers you like.”
“You’re the best,” says Carrie.
That’s how we do it, we Sinclairs.
Another outtake. Throughout the summer, Cadence and her cousins have been writing mottos on their hands. “Be a little kinder than you have to.” Or “Do not accept an evil you can change.” Mirren’s favorite song is called “Youth is Wasted”. It’s not a song that exists. I made it up and wrote the lyrics that appear in the book. The words go:
Our youth is wasted
We will not waste it
Remember my name
’Cause we made history
Na na na na, na na na
In the outtake scene, Mirren says to Cadence:
“Don’t you love this song?”
“You’ve had it on repeat for like, 45 minutes. Plus the singing.”
“It’s the best song ever.”
Mirren thinks for a moment. “It’s so true.”
She sits and takes a pen from our beach bag. “Give me your hands,” she says.
Left: We will not. Right: Waste it. Then she writes the same on her own.
“Okay,” I say. “But the na na na na bit. What does that mean?”
Last outtake. Cadence’s cousins are Johnny and Mirren. Her ex-boyfriend is Gat. Those three have spent the entire summer in one of the houses on the Sinclair family’s island, Cuddledown. They won’t see the adults and the younger cousins for dinner, tennis, or anything. They have just formed their own little society of three – which becomes four when Cadence is with them. In this scene she tries to get them to go up to the main house for dessert.
I promise Johnny pie, promise Mirren cough medicine, promise a game of Othello at Granddad’s coffee table.
They won’t go.
“Go ahead,” says Mirren.
“I love you, Cadence,” Mirren says, and I love her too, but hell, I am tired of her saying it all the time, every day all summer, and still refusing to leave Cuddledown.
“I love you, too,” says Johnny.
Gat doesn’t speak.
“Shut up with all the love,” I say, not unkindly. “I don’t want love. I want dessert.”