Book Review: ‘Sometimes You Have to Lie’: Louise Fitzhugh’s Rebellion

The editorial meeting with Nordstrom and Zolotow, a pivot point in Fitzhugh’s professional life, occurs midway through “Sometimes You Have to Lie,” a highly enjoyable biography by Leslie Brody, a professor at the University of Redlands in California and the author of a 2010 biography of Jessica Mitford. The book’s title comes from a crucial piece of advice that Harriet the Spy receives from her brusque former nanny, Ole Golly. As generations of readers will remember, Harriet gets in bad odor with her sixth-grade classmates after they find and read a journal she has filled with her pitiless observations of their weaknesses and propensities. Ole Golly, who is given to high-minded quotation, recites Keats’s dictum about truth and beauty but also reminds Harriet of the restorative power of the white lie. “Remember that writing is to put love in the world, not to use against your friends,” she counsels. “But to yourself you must always tell the truth.”  Read the full review HERE.