Her first novel, Ralph's Party, was the best- selling debut novel of 1999. Since then she has written another twenty novels, most recently a number of dark psychological thrillers, including The Girls, Then She Was Gone, The Family Upstairs and The Night She Disappeared.
Lisa is a New York Times and Sunday Times number one bestselling author who has been published worldwide in over twenty-five languages. She lives in north London with her husband, two teenage daughters and the best dog in the world.
COVER LOVE! The first thing that drew me to this book on NetGalley was the cover. That mixed with the concept of living in a somewhat communal neighborhood sold me. I’ll be honest, I’ve always dreamed of what it would be like to raise my baby girls in a simpler time; one where “it took a village” and everyone’s door was always open to visitors. I think our generation has lost something important in the fact that we are so incredibly isolated as families now; not borrowing sugar from our neighbors and having another families kids over for the night so that their parents could have a night off. This book did a fantastic job of solidifying that vision for me while also bringing to light all the things that can go wrong when you are too close to your neighbors.
This particular story is told from multiple POVs. We open with a somewhat gruesome scene where a 13 year old girl is found unconscious and clothing askew. We then go back in time to fill in the events that brought us here, mainly from Pip (sister to Grace who was found unconscious), Adele (mother of friends of Pip and Grace’s who also like in the Garden), and Clare (mother to Pip and Grace). While there is the underlying mystery of what happened to Grace, there are also a few more minor side stories thrown in, one involving the absence of Clare’s husband.
While this wasn’t a heart pounding thriller, it did manage to keep my attention nicely once everything was set up. I loved the childlike drawings thrown in by Pip in the letters to her father. My favorite character was Adele; she was such a strong character and I found her sense of humor refreshing and a little lighter air when the mood was getting too somber. I also really enjoyed Gordon’s character (I know he was despicable and unlikable but he always made me laugh!); my favorite scene in the book was when he was singing:
“Cecilia, you’re breaking my heart, you’re shaking my confidence daily,” giving a showgirl kick at the doorway and wiggling his large bottom just once before disappearing.
Overall, it wasn’t what I was expecting but I thoroughly enjoyed it and will be reading more from Lisa Jewell!
* I’d like to thank NetGalley and Lisa Jewell for my copy in exchange for an honest and fair review. This did not influence my opinions and all thoughts are my own.
Lisa Jewell is probably in my top 5 favorite authors and I’m starting to realize that I’ve almost exhausted all of her works. Most being 5 ⭐️ reads, mind you. 😄 This book truly had me hooked instantly and kept me there until the end! I loved the characters and thought they each had a lot of depth. Although the suspense is right at that sweet spot throughout, I felt there were a few unanswered questions by the end and was a tad underwhelmed by the abrupt ending. I do LOVE Jewell’s writing though and I think she’s crazy talented. I just didn’t connect with this book as much as her others. 3.5 ⭐️ rounding up! I would recommend to anyone looking for a quick suspense story that is milder on the graphics and triggers.
'The Girls' is set in a terrace of houses and flats in London, and they share one of those picturesque communal walled gardens. Whilst providing lots of freedom for the kids who live there, it also has a claustrophobic feel about it - it's a place of secrets, whisperings and past misdeeds. When Grace is found unconscious in the gardens on her 13th birthday, it opens a can of worms for the residents. Mysteries from the past are brought to light, along with many questions that need to be answered. There are lots of clues and misdirections as to who is responsible, but I couldn't have guessed how it was going to end. This was a gripping tale from Lisa Jewell, an author I'm not familiar with, but I would certainly read more from her.
*Thank you to Netgalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone for my free 'Wish For It' copy*
3.5 From the very beginning we know something terrible has happened, which lends an ominous air to all that follows. After a family disaster Clare and her two daughters move into this gorgeous place that because of its communal space, acres that are shared by all the houses surrounding it, seem like a good place to call home.
I kept thinking of Lord of the Flies as I was reading this. Children that seem to be basically raising themselves, either because of neglect, a hand off approach to child rearing, or because it is assumed they are safe. Didn't agree with much in the way of parenting here, not sure I cared much for the parents who seem oblivious to all the undercurrents happening within this gang of kids. Pip, who is only twelve seems to have more sense than any of them.
Still, it was an engrossing story and one I would have rated a solid four except for the ending. Seemed somewhat anticlimactic, not in keeping with the rest of the story. That is of course only my own opinion and up to then felt the story flowed well, was suspenseful because the reader knows where it will lead but not how or who. This author has a good storytelling ability and it is well worth the read. Maybe as a precautionary tale for parents.
I remember reading the description for this book a while back and being so excited about reading it. Set in a community situated on a garden, there's a sense of community to this book that I haven't read elsewhere. Everyone feels intimately connected (sometimes far too much so), and though each family has their own dwelling the bulk of what happens centers around this garden.
I hesitate to go into too much detail because each development is important to the progression of the story. Sure, you kind of know where the story is going from the start but as you begin to piece together the puzzle you realize just how much more complex things really are. There's murder, mental instability, love (which you might could argue is mental instability in itself), and most of all, the dynamic of neighborly fellowship. Even if things weren't seemingly crumbling from within, the last thing this place needs is more drama.
I give Lisa Jewell a lot of credit, right from the start I felt totally immersed within the garden community. The setting descriptions are beautiful and almost at times unsettling in their real-ness. I found myself feeling like I could totally picture the places these characters were walking. It's a real sense of adventure to be able to immerse yourself in a book like that.
What did I think?: I really enjoyed this book. It wasn't the heart-racing tale that I had possibly hoped, but it wasn't disappointing either. I see this one really being popular with many readers and I'm glad I was able to get my hands on it and share it with others early on.
Who should read it?: If you like thrillers or mysteries, I wouldn't say this necessarily fits into that niche, but I still think you would probably enjoy it. It wouldn't surprise me if we saw this in theaters in the future.
*I was provided with a copy of this book in order to conduct this honest review.*
*spoiler alert* Adele knows who did it. She manages to piece everything together to the point that she knows exactly who did it and how and 90% of why. In figuring it all out she also solves a 20-some-year-old murder. She could prove it to the police if she wanted. But she does nothing. At all. She doesn't even attempt to help reform the girls involved. She just sticks her fingers in her ears and tries to forget it happened. Tries to ignore the fact that these girls are growing up to be horrific irresponsible adults who won't be able to function in society. She enabled them to get where they are here, and capable of doing what they did, and when she sees what she's done she not only makes no attempt to correct it, she keeps on doing exactly what she's been doing. Talk about a book to throw against a wall.
Traveling Sisters Review by NORMA, BRENDA and JALINE!!
LISA JEWELL sure has a knack at keeping us totally engaged with all the red herrings and leaving so many cliffhangers throughout this book that had us all turning those pages as fast as we could.
THE GIRL IN THE GARDEN by LISA JEWELL is an engrossing, intriguing, steady-paced, and a suspenseful mystery with lots of twists and turns along the way that kept us all reading and guessing right to the very end. We were pretty much suspicious of every character!
LISA JEWELL delivers a character-driven story here that is cleverly written in such a skillful way that allowed us to really get into the voices of our main character’s and the storyline. With the help of a map of the communal complex on the first page of the book we were able to picture the characters homes and where the events took place within the book.
We all loved the enchanting communal garden that appears to be the perfect oasis and a parent’s dream place to let their kids play and always have friends around, however we soon learn of the danger lurking in the garden. Two mysteries are among the bushes and thorns that had us suspecting almost everyone and Jaline even suspected a total bystander. We came up with a few different scenarios and our thriller imaginations were running all over the place. In the end we were very happy we were wrong about many.
Although, we wouldn’t say that this was a nail-biting thriller it was the way that the story was told and the drama within that really grabbed our attention. Would recommend!
Well, I am going to be in the minority here. I had heard a lot of good things about this book. I anxiously awaited my copy to be available at the library. I waited and waited and waited. Then finally it was ready.
Yay! I was so excited to start it. Then it began with a fizzle. It was slow as in sloooooooooow. I hung in there. I found that this book took some time, but eventually it became more interesting. It is a mystery whodunit. At the end I found it to be good - not great. I wanted to know what the hell really happened but was still left feeling like, like well, that this book could have been more. I think this is a book one either loves or just finds to be okay. For me although the story did pick up, it still did not grab me, not entirely. I waned to see where it ended and I had heard so much hype that I kept going.
For starters, we know from the first couple of pages that something terrible has happened.
Clare and her 2 daughters move into a new home that shares a communal "garden" with other families. Things seem fine at first as they always do, but then things turn out to not be as fine as they seem. There are cliques, family secrets, jealousy, relationships changing upon the arrival of the new family, and a 15 year old murder mystery of another teenage girl.
Good not great. For me the highlight was pip and her letters to her father.
A great read with twists and turns and a surprising end.
Clare and her daughters Grace and Pip are forced to find new lodging after a traumatic event. They are hesitantly welcomed into the new community, and things are not quite as they seem.
The housing groups’ central focus is a park with gardens at the center upon which children and adults alike freely wander the field and playground. People come and go while enjoying the summer outdoor activities. It seems everyone knows something about everyone else’s business.
If children are left unsupervised, with no responsibility, can they grow up to be good people, or do they become what they are around?
This was a Traveling Sisters Read & Review with Brenda and Norma, and was my first experience with a group read. I can’t think of two people who could possibly have made it easier – or more fun!! For more fabulous Sisters Reviews as well as other Traveling Sisters Reviews, please visit their site at: https://twogirlslostinacouleereading....
Lisa Jewell sure knows how to ramp up the suspense – and how to throw out a red herring or five or ten!
Luckily, there is a nifty map/diagram right on the first page of this book showing the housing complex where the events in this story take place. There are also handy little arrows with the grown-ups' names on them showing where they live in relation to each other and the various areas in the communal park. I found it helpful to jot these down because there are a lot of children in this story, and it helped to write the children's names in under the names of their parents or guardians.
The novel takes place around the attack of a young girl in the communal park after a big annual event in the park on a day that happens to be the girl’s 13th Birthday. We know this right from the beginning. From there, the back stories of all the people who are part of this story unfold and intertwine.
This book has more twists and curves than the switchbacks on a mountain road! I was completely immersed in the story while harboring suspicion toward at least 6 or 7 characters. Brenda, Norma, and I assigned ourselves reading goals and then would email as a group to discuss our impressions. We all pretty much suspected everyone – I even suspected a totally innocent bystander!
I found the ending to be very satisfying and, if not completely happy, it left me feeling hopeful that everyone in the book had learned valuable lessons from the events that took place, and that they would ultimately allow those lessons to govern their futures.
Altogether, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read – and a very clever, well-written book! I recommend it to anyone who enjoys suspense stories that are so real they could be happening in your own neighbourhood park!
This story really puzzled me, and not completely in a good way. I find it hard to decide exactly which genre it falls under - its a little drama, a little mystery, a little crime. Jewell is known for stories featuring complex family and friend orientated issues, which this book does well. However, there is no one lead protagonist, which makes it difficult to fully understand any one character.
When Clare and her two pre-teen daughters move into an open-plan housing estate (the synopsis touts it as a commune of sort, which it actually isn't), they are welcomed by a host of neighbours and their children. The reader is introduced to both Clare and her neighbour Adele's families, whilst events unfold resulting in one of Clare's daughters becoming seriously injured.
I didn't particularly warm to either Clare or Adele, they were each too one-dimensional and cliched. The reader meets so many different people who are part of the estate, that its difficult to keep up withe everyone, their actions and their motivations.
The writing style is fair, if feeling a little amateur at times. I have read a few of Jewell's other novels, and I truly find them hit and miss. Despite the cover art screaming "compelling" "gripping" and "fascinating" I just didn't feel any of those things. If I had three words to sum up my thoughts on this book, they would instead have to be: underwhelming, forced and disappointing.
While this might not be my favorite out of the four books I have read by the author, I do think this is her best attempt at a mystery that has you guessing until the end. Normally I have a good idea when reading her books where she's going to take the story but with this one she left enough room for multiple possibilities. Unfortunately there was something missing with this book and I wish it could have been more of a page turner.
Right off the bat you find out something terrible has happened to a girl living in this communal type London housing area. Nowadays most people would rather avoid their neighbors at all costs but here everyone seems to know everyone else as many of the residents have lived there for years. If this place could talk, boy would it be able to share a lot of secrets. The story flashes back to when two girls and their mother have just moved in and you get to see everything that led to the brutal attack.
I definitely had this uncomfortable type feeling while reading because some of the characters and their behavior was so creepy. I don't think that is the reason though why I just was not 100% into the story. I think it was more that almost all of the characters just fell flat and I wasn't all that interested in them. Yes, I wanted to find out what happened to the girl who was attacked but that's about it.
The mystery itself is pretty decent and one that you really do have to wait until the end as the author made sure to insert more than one suspect into the story. The ending itself is not completely satisfying although it did not ruin the story for me or anything. I don't want to get into spoiler territory so I will just leave it at that.
This was a decent book but not the most compelling story I have ever read. If you haven't read a Lisa Jewell book before, I would start with Watching You as I think that's her best work.
Captivating and atmospheric. The best mystery I've read in a long, long time.
Set in London, this is a story about a close-knit community surrounding a central 3-acre park, complete with a playground, rose garden, even a secret garden. Many of the people who live here have known each other for a lifetime, since they were children, and many have stayed in this same neighborhood until adulthood, now raising their own children here as well. So the children of friends are now friends themselves, playing the same games in the same park as their parents did.
This entire book was a sentimental flashback for me... running around with friends in the warm summer air, making up games and sharing secrets, until of course the park lights came on and it was time to check-in, or at least make a showing, for dinner. Fun, impromptu get-togethers among the parents, gathering on neighboring porches, opening up bottles of wine and kicking back, laughing and enjoying the long summertime evenings, trusting that the kids were okay because they were all together in a group, somewhere in the safety of the neighborhood. I found this story to be extremely atmospheric and nostalgic, even with the tragic mystery it entailed.
The story opens with a shock. A young 13-year-old girl named Grace is found unconscious and half-dressed, lying on the ground in the park. She appears to be the victim of an assault, possibly a sexual assault. I almost put the book down right then and there. I was so horrified by this event, especially given Grace's age, that I was not sure if this was even something I wanted to read. BUT, this is a Lisa Jewell book, so I stuck with it, and boy am I glad I did.
This one is full of great characters, loads of possible suspects, rich family histories, and lifetimes of secrets. What I enjoyed the most about this one was it wasn't a breathless thriller, where you found yourself staying up way too late into the night and sleep-deprived in the morning. This was the perfect slow burn. You could put it down when you needed to, but when you picked it back up, the same atmospheric neighborhood park, with the same close-knit group of friends, was still there waiting for you, inviting you back into their absorbing world.
I just loved this one. Terrific ending. Just a great read all-around. Now, on to my next Lisa Jewell book!
This is a character-driven novel at it’s best. Odd, eccentric, maybe even a little strange, the characters in this book kept me in the dark until the end. I had a hard time deciphering who was legit and who was shady.
The story takes place in central London in a community that backs up to a large private park. A park where kids are free to roam from house to house, at all hours of the day, and the adults are in everyone else's business. It’s communal living and almost manages to comes off as charming. In the beginning.
As the story progressed and the cracks started to show, it didn’t seem so great to me anymore. Everything that I had originally liked sort of took on a sinister tone. It wasn’t all happiness and light. It was years of lies, jealousy and dysfunction.
“Best to keep yourself to yourself out there. Don’t get too involved.”
I really like Lisa Jewell’s style. This is the second book of hers I’ve read and enjoyed. I don’t know if I would consider this a suspense, maybe more of a dark women’s fiction novel. I think in that realm her stories are different and sort of refreshing.
This particular book wasn’t fast-paced in my opinion, but where the pacing lacked she made up for in the depth of her characters. I think she managed to make them down to earth and weirdly authentic. Not that I didn’t enjoy them, but they were definitely a strange bunch. In my opinion, of course.
In the end, there was a piece of me that still wanted a little bit more. More definitive answers and some sort of justice. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it felt like a big build-up to a pretty lackluster ending.
“Things happen in that park differently to how they happen in the real world. Different rules apply.”
*ARC kindly provided by Atria and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
They all look at each other and shrug. Dylan sits up straight. 'Isn't she at home?'
Pip feels a cold chill of dread pass down her spine. 'No,' she says. 'I haven't seen her for hours.'
'She said she was going in,' says Catkin. 'About an hour ago. She must have changed her mind. Have you checked our flat? Maybe she's hanging out with our parents?'
Pip wanders across the lawn, through the remains of the party, bunting fluttering darkly from trees, bin bags in piles ready to be removed the next morning, piles of folded chairs and dismantled gazebos stacked under trees. She can see the light from the Howeses' apartment glowing from here, empty now after a day long party, the party she and her mother had been at earlier, where her mother had drunk too much wine and had to excuse herself, barely able to walk in a straight line.
Then she cries out and clutches at her chest when a figure appears at her side. it is Max, the football mad loner of the community. He's only nine, three years younger than her. She can't believe he's still out here, wandering alone at this time of night. As ever, he is holding his beloved football, squeezing it tight against his stomach. he looks at Pip, his eyes wide and appalled. He looks as though he's about to say something, but no words come. He turns then and runs, down the hill, toward the lights.
Pip watches him go, feeling that something is wrong.
"Grace!' she calls out. 'Grace!'
There is something on the brow of the hill, a strange shape emerging from the hedge that encircles the Rose Garden. She heads toward it.
'Grace!' she calls again. 'Grace!'
As she nears the shape, she can see it is a foot. She holds her breath deep inside her body and rounds the corner timorously.
The foot is attached to a person. Pip passes the beam from her mobile phone across the figure: a girl, half undressed. Shorts yanked down to her thighs, floral camisole top lifted above small naked breasts. Her hair is spread about her. Her face is a bloodied mass.
ABOUT THIS BOOK: 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?
MY THOUGHTS: Talk about nostalgia.....the children running about the big communal garden brought back memories of when I was a child (younger than most of those in this story) and we all wandered together between houses, and instead of a communal garden, we had paddocks to play in. Our mothers never worried about us, I'm sure they could usually hear us, because they knew that we would be either in one of the immediate neighbours houses/yards/paddocks. Of course we lived in a different time when everyone watched out for everyone else, neighbours knew one another, and help was always on hand. Not so different to where these families live, but without the secrets. I guess there were secrets, things our parents and the neighbours talked of in hushed voices, conversations that stopped when we entered a room, but nothing that ever worried us. Unlike these children.
Envy is a dangerous emotion. That, and a sense of entitlement. I remember having spats with my friends, usually a dispute over a toy (or later a boy), something that was all over and done with, forgotten in no time at all. But under the friendly communal spirit of these gardens, lurks something deeper and darker. Envy, resentment, secrets and teenage hormones combine to form a dangerous mix, and provide us with a wonderful mystery written in Lisa Jewell's easy and freeflowing style.
**** enthusiastic stars
THE AUTHOR: Lisa was born in London in 1968. Her mother was a secretary and her father was a textile agent and she was brought up in the northernmost reaches of London with her two younger sisters. She was educated at a Catholic girls’ Grammar school in Finchley. After leaving school at sixteen she spent two years at Barnet College doing an arts foundation course and then two years at Epsom School of Art & Design studying Fashion Illustration and Communication.
She worked for the fashion chain Warehouse for three years as a PR assistant and then for Thomas Pink, the Jermyn Street shirt company for four years as a receptionist and PA. She started her first novel, Ralph’s Party, for a bet in 1996. She finished it in 1997 and it was published by Penguin books in May 1998. It went on to become the best-selling debut novel of that year.
She has since written a further nine novels, as is currently at work on her eleventh.
She now lives in an innermost part of north London with her husband Jascha, an IT consultant, her daughters, Amelie and Evie and her silver tabbies, Jack and Milly.
DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The Girls (previously titled The Girls in the garden) by Lisa Jewell, narrated by Colleen Prendergast and the author's daughter Amelie Jewell, published by Audible Audio, via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own opinions.
For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my Goodreads,com profile page, or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com
I've been a Lisa Jewell fan for a few years and read the last several books she's written. I'm now going backward to catch up on a few that look interesting. Since I love stories about gardens, and The Girls in the Garden from 2015 had a cool-sounding vibe, I decided to make it my next read. While the story had tons of merit and intrigue, it fell a bit short for me. I enjoyed it, ending somewhere around 3.5 stars. I'll round up because I do enjoy the writing style and character creation.
In a lovely section of London, there is a large cul-de-sac of sorts where a dozen or so homes surround a beautiful park and garden. Most families stay forever. Some leave because it's too much like living in a commune. Occasionally, some neither stay nor leave - they die. Clare and her daughters, Pip and Grace, move into the community after their husband and father has a breakdown. The girls are 12/13 and somewhat precocious for their ages. Given the issue with their father, their sense of comfort and trust has been broken. They're vulnerable, and in particular, Grace, the older girl, finds herself all too willing to grow up too quickly.
The neighbors are interesting. A mixed-race family with 3 daughters. An older woman who knows some secrets. A mysterious boy and his older brother who has a few of his own issues to deal with. And the daughter of a woman whose sister might've been murdered there years ago. Everyone is interesting. Everyone is scary. I wasn't sure which ones to like or dislike, and as the pages and time progressed, it became more clear. Even so, no one was without fault. Even Clare, who let her children run a little too free.
The book introduces lots of side stories. Each character has a subplot to follow. Unfortunately, several just whimper out... we know enough to assume what happened in the past, and again in the current time, but it's not detailed enough. I like books with vague endings, but this one was much more vague than normal. It's almost like it was missing ~50 pages to tie some things together. For instance, the older women never confronts anyone or reveals the secrets. The father who moved to Africa gets ill, recovers, and leaves. But he knew things, and we never explored it. The young daughters were never punished for any behaviors, yet we don't know who did what during the incident. That feels kinda important to me, even if we're speculating.
That said... the prose was lyrical as usual. The imagery was wonderful. I wish I could live there, but without my neighbors running in and out all the time. I also think the girls should've been 14/15 instead of 12/13, especially given the sexual activity they engaged in. I know what I did when I was 12/13, and while I can understand the point in this story, it would've been stronger if the girls were a bit older -- still underage, but enough that I'd possibly get why the mothers were less focused on monitoring them. Or maybe that's the point; they thought they were too young for things to happen.
I'd recommend the book if you like Jewell's work. If this will be your first Jewell novel, don't do it. Start with a more current one to cement the beauty of her style. This one is okay, but it won't show you the true strength in her work. She's grown tons in the last few novels, and I look forward to reading more.
The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell is a 2016 Atria publication.
This is my first novel by this author, but now that she is on my radar I plan to check out her other books, as well.
When Clare’s husband, Chris, has a psychotic episode, and winds up institutionalized, she and her daughters, Grace and Pip, move into a new apartment surrounded by a delightful communal garden. Grace begins to worm her way into the group of kids who hang out in the park, while Pip hangs back, writing her father letters, telling all about their new life, and observing things from a distance. When Grace makes new friends, Clare finds herself getting a little friendly with her neighbors, Adele and Leo. Leo makes the biggest impression on her with his easy going, slightly flirtatious manner, prompting her to open up about her problems, which seems to lighten her burden considerably.
But, when Grace is found unconscious, and hospitalized, remaining in a coma, leaving everyone unsure of what happened to her, a dark side of the idealistic garden community is exposed, with long buried secrets coming to light, prompting some to take drastic measures to protect one of their own.
In some ways, this story is a little quirky, told from various POV’s, but also does a pretty good job of creating a feeling of unease, and building suspense at a steady pace, with a few very surprising twists thrown in along the way.
Despite the odd presentation and the strange way these characters developed, leaving me unsure of how I felt about them, I enjoyed the book, and found it weirdly absorbing, and kind of unique, which is a good thing!
So, overall, I enjoyed the book, although it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, and think fans of psychological suspense will like this one too.
What is it with all these books with “Girls” in the title? The last book I read was The Girls. Now I have just finished The Girls in the Garden – which I gather was titled The Girls in the UK. And last year I read Those Girls…
And what is it with seat mates on flights who don’t get the hint when you have your nose in a book? Last year it happened when I was reading The Seven Good Years. Yesterday, it happened as I was reading The Girls in the Garden. Some drunken idiot sitting next to me kept asking what I was reading, whether it was any good, and sorry for bothering you, it won’t happen again... I used to read too but I don’t have time anymore, how’s that book by the way …
Anyways, The Girls in the Garden is the second book I have read by Lisa Jewell. I read The Third Wife last year. It made me think that Jewell is a very good story teller, but I had a bit of an issue with the main male character and the women who fawned over him. I’m glad that I took a chance on The Girls in the Garden, because Jewell is indeed a good story teller. Set in London, the story focuses on a group of families that live off a communal garden. Adele and Leo have lived there for many years with their three home schooled daughters. Clare moves in with her two daughters in the shadow of a recent tragic event. And there are other adults and children in the mix. Something nasty happens to one of Clare’s daughter’s at the beginning of the book – it’s not particularly brutal so no need to shy away if you’re squeamish. And the rest of the book goes back and forth in time and unpacks the dynamics between these characters -- what happened before and in the aftermath of the event. What I like about Jewell’s storytelling is that her characters and family dynamics don’t feel pat or conventional. Characters are flawed -- but not awful. Children are less innocent than their parents give them credit for – but they’re normal kids motivated by wanting to be accepted by friends and loved by family. It all kept me turning the pages at a furious clip – despite my obnoxious seat mate. Nothing deep, but a good story with a satisfying end. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.
A beautiful private garden where close-knit families keep the children safe from the dangers of urban London. Or does it?
Pip watches him go, feeling that something is wrong. "Grace!" she calls out. "Grace!" There is something on the brow of the hill, a strange shape emerging from the hedge that encircles the Rose Garden. She heads toward it. "Grace!" she calls again. "Grace!" As she nears the shape she can see it is a foot. She holds her breath deep inside her body and rounds the corner timorously. The foot is attached to a person. Pip passes the beam from her mobile phone across the figure: a girl, half-undressed. Shorts yanked down to her thighs, floral camisole top lifted above her small naked breasts. Her hair is spread about her. Her face is a bloodied mass. Grace Pip drops to her knees. "No," she mutters, "no. No. No. No." She pulls Grace's comisol down, pulls her shorts up. Then she runs down the hill, runs and runs, toward the warm safe lights of the Howese's apartment, toward the grown-ups, her heart thumping piston-hard in her chest.
The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell begins with a terrible crime, catching my attention right off. The reader is then taken back in time, before the attack on Grace, giving us an up close view into the lives of the characters living in Virginia Park, a picturesque, seemingly safe haven in the center of London. I was drawn into the world of engaging characters, each of whom have a unique quality about them. The dynamic writing gave me the impression that the garden seems safe, and yet.... There is an undercurrent of hesitation, a feeling just below the surface that seems dangerous somehow. The twists kept me off guard and as an avid reader of mysteries, I thought I had the attacker pegged. I was wrong. I love Lisa Jewell!
This is my first read by author Lisa Jewell, but it certainly won't be my last!
While the storyline had some issues for me-I had a good idea how this was going to play out relatively early on-it was Jewell's descriptive writing style and character development that really drew me in. This is a well written family drama with a good dose of mystery/suspense to keep everyone on their toes.
This whole story takes place in a neighborhood of London where the flats are all connected and they all share a communal walled 'garden' instead of individual backyards. Children are allowed to run free and independently with friends they've grown up with for years. Neighbors become a part of the family and bonds are formed. I could see this fictional garden in my head-from the benches and the rose garden, to Rhea's sitting on her balcony with her giant rabbit.
But what happens when a single mother of 2 teenage girls moves in to this tight-knit world? Everything is not as perfect as it seems, and slowly things go off kilter. Families with secrets, teenage love, green-eyed monsters, and an unresolved 15 year old murder of a young girl that was killed in this very garden make for a captivating story that I found hard to put down.
There are some really stand out characters in this story. Like every other female in the book, I too fell madly in love with Leo. Of course Leo is fictional...does anyone like him really exist?! :-) Even Gordan, Leo's grumpy and obnoxious father was well imagined, and I think we all have someone like him in our own family. But my absolute favorite has to be Pip. 12 years old but wise beyond her years, with a fierce love for her family that is infectious.
I highly recommend this drama to all lovers of fiction...there is a little something in here for everyone to enjoy!
ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
At this point I pretty much resemble this when it comes to Lisa Jewell books . . . .
I want to nom nom nom them all anytime I’m feeling like . . . .
The Girls in the Garden follows sort of a Liane Moriarty path as it begins with a possible superbadawful having happened to one of the neighborhood children followed by the reader actually getting to know the neighbors as we wind our way back to post potential superbadawful. Around sixty percent marks the actual present present and we wind our way back a second time to the goings on of the night before’s summer block party and the big reveal of the frequently mentioned potential superbadawful.
It ticked all of my buttons. First, house cover . . . .
No apologies. I love ‘em.
Next, neighbors. Please if you are one of mine who happen to stumble upon this, don’t confuse my enjoyment of reading about neighborhoods with actually wanting to interact with any of you because that is most certainly not the case. However, I am a voyeur at heart and I love sneaky peaks into various family dynamics so stories like these feed my fetish without the risk of me going to jail for being a creeping peeper. Also, any time you give me a place where you can look into multiple dwellings courtesy of a shared courtyard (or in this case garden) I can’t help but think of . . . . .
And boy does that get my little heart palpitating like a rabbit.
Like nearly everything I read, this is not going to change your life and it’s more than a little Lifetime Stabby Stabs for chicks, but it’s my wheelhouse so once again #sorrynotsorry.
Lisa Jewell is one of my favourite authors. This is her introduction into the mystery/suspense genre. While it was a good story it just did not grab me like her other previous books. Sometimes her characters/families have a bit of "quirkiness" to them but are endearing. Not so much the families in this book. I did like the mystery in the book and that kept me reading. The book was divided into two parts. The BEFORE and AFTER a certain incident. I think I enjoyed the AFTER a lot more. I wanted to find out what exactly happened to Grace. I thought she should have been a little older. Possibly fifteen or sixteen to be a bit more believable. There were many red herrings and twists in the book and the build up was executed quite well. I was expecting an explosive ending though. It just ended up being mediocre.
A quick 'bestselling suspense' read that was altogether too easy. Too easy in its resolutions of very serious situations. Too easy in its treatment of life-changing mental health issues. Too weird in its disturbing treatment of (quite) young sexuality. It almost felt like Jewell spent a fair amount of time throwing out red herrings and creating possible suspects, only to get tired of her own book and decide to just wrap things up and close it. Unlikeable characters that change on a dime and everything happening at warp speed would be bad enough, but I would almost suggest the author is irresponsible in her flighty treatment of some really heavy stuff. Avoid this.
Had I known by hearsay how The Girls would end, I might have have skipped it as too tepid. That would have been a mistake; it ended quite the way it ought to. It belongs to the world of romance more than the tragic. And the enclosed garden setting in a north London cresecent combines the perfect mythic locations, the mediaeval hortus conclusus (the enclosed garden) and the neo-classical rus in urbe (the country amidst the city). Not only is the setting perfect: the characters are beautifully drawn. The are two mums, Adele with her homeschooled daughters Catkin, Fern and Willow, and Clare with her Grace and Pip, whose father is supposed to be in mental institution after burning their house down during a schizophrenic episode. With a couple of more neighbour children, Tyler and Dylan, the childrent explore the mysteries and conflicts of early adolescence in what ought to be a safe setting. But as in Eden, there's evil lurking in the garden. The night of the summer garden party, Grace is found by her sister Pip, attacked and left in a coma.
I so loved this book for the young people - who really drive the book. Even the adult mums are mostly motivated by what is happening with the children. And the children are the best characters. I think that may be why I am coming to love YAs and stories of teen friendship so much. Stories about 13 year olds seem so much more interesting and at least as mature as those about "adult" characters. And that seems just as true in real life as well. Most to the grown ups in today's world act mostly like 13 year olds. And real 13 year olds make so much better a job of being 13 than those in their mid-years or older who are running our world. Or trying to. Appropriately the most odious character here, Gordon the father-in-law of Adele, is the most elderly. He seems to have the maturity of a 3 year old and as the story has him returning to Africa, I hope he gets ebola.
Why is The Girls so much better than Lisa Jewell's I Found You? Partly for 'the girls' themselves and Adele and Clare. They are so much more appealing as characters than those in Jewell's succeeding book. Partly too for the absolutely perfect setting. And the absence of thriller type violence was welcome - what happened to Clare was the only actually violent crime - nobody gets tied up whilst threatened (unconvincingly) with a knife. The actual execution of the villany was hard to follow and unconvincing, but that didn't matter. Just add a beautiful ending where justice is tempered with mercy and you will feel you got back in the garden.
The suspense in this book is fantastic. It was a quick and very enjoyable read, with an unpredictable ending. I'd never read Lisa Jewell before, but I'll definitely read another of her works. Well written!
Lisa Jewell can always be depeded upon to deliver a gripping page turner. Whilst I felt this wasn't the strongest in her back catalogue, it still proved to be an entertaining read.
Like most thrillers the prologue opens with a bang as Pip discovers her elder sister Grace unconscious in the communal garden.
The first half of the novel is set before the events of that evening and is a real slow burn. The reader learns why the siblings moved to area with just their mother whilst also delving into the dynamics of their new neighbours, with the garden being the focal point. Slowly bubbling under the service is the nagging feeling of who would harm Grace.
The second half switches to a more of a police procedural as evidence starts to come light, plus plenty of red herrings thrown in for good measure. This breakneck pace feels at odds with the set up and despite the uneven feel overall, this section is the strongest.
I was still really invested in whodunit despite this not being Jewell's best. An enjoyable read that's worth sticking with.
In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with a book by Lisa Jewell. She is just a fantastic author. Having said that, this one was my least favourite so far. Don’t get me wrong - it’s really good, but just not AS good as her others. I think the ending was a bit of a let down. There wasn’t the ‘OMG!!!!!’ moment that I’ve normally had in her other books. In this book, the ending was more of a ‘Really? That’s it?’ moment!