Review – The Girls by Lisa Jewell

By | June 30, 2015

Dark secrets, a devastating mystery and the games people play: the gripping new novel from the bestselling author of The House We Grew Up In and The Third Wife.

You live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses.

You’ve known your neighbours for years and you trust them. Implicitly.

You think your children are safe. But are they really?

Midsummer night: a thirteen-year-old girl is found unconscious in a dark corner of the garden square. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?

Utterly believable characters, a gripping story and a dark secret buried at its core: this is Lisa Jewell at her heart-stopping best.

I’ve said it before, and it doesn’t hurt to say it again – I think Lisa Jewell’s books are simply wonderful. If you’ve never read any… well, you really should, whatever your taste in books. What’s more, her writing is just getting stronger and stronger and every new book is something a little different from the one before. 

I first discovered her with The Making Of Us, a really moving story about damaged people. Then came Before I Met You with its deft handling of secrets from the past, followed by The House We Grew Up In, with its complex and beautifully drawn characters and effortless handling of enormous issues.  My favourite of all though was probably The Third Wife with its intricate web of characters and human interactions. You’ll find all my reviews on the blog – just look for Lisa Jewell in the A-Z.

And now we have The Girls, published by Century in hardcover and for kindle on 2nd July – again something very, very different. Lisa creates such wonderful characters – I loved young Pip, writing her heartbreakingly sad and beautifully illustrated letters to her absent father. My heart ached for her mother Clare, just about coping with life, working out what her future might hold. I wanted to be part of Adele and Leo’s family, living in their shabby chic home, home schooling their three children – but I do think I’d find the youngest, Willow, too exhausting. Every character is beautifully drawn, even the lesser ones – Leo’s revolting father (Adele’s description, not mine), Tyler and her mother, the elderly lady with her history and floppy rabbit on a lead, Pip’s father in his socks and wetsuit. These are all people you live with – and know as well as your own family – as you read. 

As well as creating characters, she creates such vivid settings, and images that will stay with you. The garden square itself becomes absolutely real – its geography totally clear, in all its detail, and through all your senses. And the image of a family’s former home, destroyed and blackened, is perfectly shocking and intricately detailed.

And then there’s the story – and what a story, a historic mystery and a current one touching the lives of everyone who lives around the gardens. It becomes impossible to trust or believe anyone, as the good and the less-than-good are all touched by suspicion. And the ending… what an ending, beautifully done, and quite perfect. 

This was a quite lovely read. I haven’t said it in a while, but unquestionably one of my top books of the year. You’ll love it too – I guarantee it.

My thanks to netgalley and the publishers for my advance reading e-copy.

Lisa Jewell was born and raised in north London, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. Her first novel, Ralph’s Party, was the bestselling debut of 1999. She is also the author of Thirtynothing, One-Hit Wonder, Vince & Joy, A Friend of the Family, 31 Dream Street, The Truth About Melody Browne and After the Party, all of which have been Sunday Times bestsellers.

2 thoughts on “Review – The Girls by Lisa Jewell

  1. dawn obrien

    I've just finished "the making of us" by lisa jewell, I really enjoyed it despite finding It a bit too chick lit in places (which isn't usually to my taste) I'm definitely going to read more of her books starting with this one following your review!

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