Independent Publishers Group Logo

Sign up today...
for featured titles, special offers, bestsellers, and more, in your inbox!

Subscribe to receive special offers, monthly books suggestions, seasonal selections, and more!



A Startling True Story of Love in a World of Liars, Cheats, Narcissists, Fantasists and Phonies



352 Pages, 5 x 7.75

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $19.95 (US $19.95) (CA $26.95)

Publication Date: October 2021

ISBN 9781760899110

Rights: US & CA

Penguin Random House Australia (Oct 2021)
Penguin (AU Adult)

Sorry, this item is temporarily out of stock


A powerful, richly layered investigative story for our times, drawing on the personal stories of the author and other women who have been drawn into relationships based on duplicity and false hope. 

When Stephanie Wood meets a former architect turned farmer she embarks on an exhilarating romance with him. He seems compassionate, loving, truthful. They talk about the future. She falls in love. She also becomes increasingly beset by anxiety at his frequent cancellations, no-shows and bizarre excuses. She starts to wonder, who is this man?When she ends the relationship Stephanie reboots her journalism skills and embarks on a romantic investigation. She discovers a story of mind-boggling duplicity and manipulation. She learns that the man she thought she was in love with doesn’t exist. She also finds she is not alone; that the world is full of smart people who have suffered at the hands of liars, cheats, narcissists, fantasists and phonies, people enormously skilled in the art of deception.In this brilliantly acute and broad-ranging book, Wood, an award-winning writer and journalist, has written a riveting, important account of contemporary love, and the resilience of those who have witnessed its darkest sides.


"In the hands of a lesser craftsperson, such a story – written in hindsight – might find itself bogged down in telling readers what they already know. . . . But Wood understands that it's not enough to tell the reader that someone has lied, even lied deliberately, repeatedly. . . The true fascination – the voyeuristic pleasure – comes from the unspooling of the lie, the fallout, the dissection of the motivations of the liar and the social fabric surrounding them.  . . . At the heart of this book is love. It is not just a story about being duped for the love of a man, but a story about finding love for oneself. One senses the sheer force of the personal reckoning Wood must have had in order to write it. The self-flagellation, the tremendous shame – these are feelings of the past. She has built herself a suit of armour with which to face adversity, yes, but more importantly, has found the brilliant core within herself, and the final passages of the book blaze with it." --Guardian

"Wood's writing talent makes this a page-turning, well-crafted book, almost like a thriller." --Canberra Times

"Wood brings lyrical talent and solid insight into what drives some women (and some men) into the arms of ''liars, cheats, narcissists, fantasists and phonies'' and keeps them there. The story and the style are gripping and, thankfully, the resolution is deeply satisfying." --Sydney Morning Herald

Author Biography

Stephanie Wood is an award-winning long-form features writer, known for her rare ability to tell substantial, compelling stories across a range of subjects. She is a former senior staff writer at Good Weekend magazine and has won multiple journalism awards. An accomplished profile writer, she has told the stories of some of Australia's most interesting characters: for stories, she has visited Richard Di Natale's Victorian farm; struggled to understand Australian-born genius mathematician Terry Tao in his Los Angeles lounge-room; shared a couch with Molly Meldrum; trailed former Premier Mike Baird, and lunched with radio celebrity Kyle Sandilands. She is a former editor of The Age Good Food Guide and an experienced food writer and restaurant reviewer, loves writing about the history of Australian cities and society, and her powerful personal essays on subjects including loneliness, childlessness and her brush with a romantic conman have drawn huge audiences and touched the lives of many readers.