I’ve read a few books from Lisa Jewell and I can confidently say this is the best one! I might be the only person in the world who didn’t like Then She Was Gone (hated it) so I didn’t pick this one up thinking I’ll like it. Maybe small expectations helped me along the line!
OK, here and there, there might be a few exaggerated things in the story line, but overall it was so gripping and delivers everything you would expect from a mystery/thriller. Lisa Jewell’s writing is always above average and in this book she’s exceptional. Sometimes it makes me cringe when I am reading thrillers with sloppy writing, where characters constantly bit their lips, have pounding hearts, having goosebumps in a maddeningly repetitive way and this book has none of it. There aren’t any unnecessary, cringing paragraphs but it’s all tidy and good quality writing.
The books takes place in Bristol, somewhere called Melville Heights, which sounds like a perfect little middle-class suburb.
Iconic was the word that people used to describe this row of twenty-seven Victorian villas: the iconic painted houses of Melville Heights.
The characters are solid and real. We have a few families in the story but the variety of characters make the story more interesting. Joey is one of the main characters and she’s newly wed with Alfie. Here’s Joey in a nutshell:
She was nearly twentyseven and it was time to take steps towards a more grown-up existence. She’d married Alfie and handed in her notice at the resort and pictured herself coming home to Bristol to do the sorts of things that grown-up women who lived in Bristol did. She would get a proper job, a nice flat, she’d cook meals, spend time with her father and her brother, go to the gym, make some friends, proper solid friends, not a scrappy, transient stream of gap-year cuties popping pills all night. Maybe she’d join a reading group, book regular appointments at the hairdresser’s, get a car, take the car to a car wash, get a pet, get two pets, buy plants, get manicures, eat salads, have a baby . .
Joey and her husband Alfie live in a spare room in Joey’s brother’s Jack’s house. Jack is a heart surgeon and also married with Rebecca, an introvert System Analyst. Then there are the Fitzwilliams. Tom, Nicole and their son Freddie. They’re a bit weird. Tom Fitzwilliam is a handsome headteacher and everyone adores him. As a family they’re picture perfect: perfect responsible husband, perfect house-wife in running gears, their well-behaved clever kid… But still there’s an air of eeriness in that family! Here is a nice chop from Freddie’s POV:
His mum, like him, had no friends. It was as if they could tell, he thought, they could tell she wasn’t ever going to be one of them. She was always going to be trying, never just being.
Then there is Jenna and Bess- pupils in Tom Fitzwilliam’s school. Jenna’s mum thinks there’s something seriously, seriously wrong with Fitzwilliams’ and she’s the type with binoculars, watching her neighbours paranoidly! (Woman in the Window!!)
There are a lot of reviews on GoodReads saying it had too many characters and they found it confusing, but I disagree.
Lisa Jewell pulls this lot of characters really nicely. Tension / surprise is very high and it finishes tying all the knots, I can’t see how it’d end up finishing if there were less characters and it’s really not that many people guys, come on!
I also think Jewell writes her teenagers much better than her adults. The Girls and this book are my favourites from her and they both have groups of teens which are brilliantly portrayed.
Thanks to NetGalley and publisher for the free copy in exchange for an honest review.
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