Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell
|Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Brilliant charactersiation and exquisite plotting. A really great read. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 416||Date: August 2020|
|External links: Author's website|
When you wear a hood, you're invisible.
Saffyre Maddox is seventeen-years-old and beautiful. By her own admission, she's a bit of a boffin, doing and enjoying maths, physics and biology at A level. Life hasn't been easy for her: most people who have been close to her have died and she's now living with her Uncle Aaron in an eighth-floor flat. Something really, really bad happened to her when she was ten and she self-harmed for a long time. Aaron organised psychological help and for three years Roan Fours was her therapist. He gently unpeeled the layers of her psyche, but somehow managed to miss that 'something really, really bad'. When the therapy ended Saffyre felt cast adrift, but she retained an interest in Roan.
Cate Fours is Roan's wife and they have a daughter, Georgia, who's outgoing and outspoken, as well as a son, Josh, who's the reverse. She and Roan have just come through a bad patch, which Cate accepts was entirely her fault, and she's hoping that they can keep the family together. They're currently in a rented flat whilst repairs are done to their house in Kilburn: Hampstead was meant to be a bit of an adventure. Unfortunately, it looks as though it might have become a bit of a risk. Coming home from school one evening, Georgia is followed by someone who doesn't exactly threaten her, but whom she finds 'creepy' and 'weird'. Georgia's friend, Tilly Krasniqi, told the family that she'd been attacked on the street, but then retracted the story. There have been other sexual attacks in the area recently. It's worrying.
Owen Pick teaches computer science to 16-to-18-year olds at Ealing Tertiary College. He thought all was going well until two of his students, Monique and Maisy, accused him of inappropriate behaviour at the Christmas party. Owen denied it but was suspended, pending an investigation. Staying at home isn't pleasant: since his mother's death some fifteen years ago he's been living with his aunt at a property on the opposite side of the road to Cate and Roan Fours. It's a strange setup - his aunt won't even let him into her sitting room and he's often cold. It's going to get a lot worse though.
Sometimes you start a book and before you get to the bottom of the first page you know that you're in safe hands and that's how it was with Invisible Girl. The plotting is exquisite: there's an elegant contrast between Saffyre and Owen. Both have suffered childhood traumas. Both live with a dead parent's sibling. Both are celibate but the difference is that Saffyre's celibacy is a conscious decision whilst Owen comes to the conclusion that he's an 'incel', an involuntary celibate, although he always seems to lack some of the more extreme characteristics associated with the name. He lacks empathy with women and is guilty of seeing them as 'women' rather than as people but when would he have learned to do otherwise? It's thought-provoking and I spent quite a bit of time thinking about how I viewed men and women who are not exactly like me.
I had a suspicion about who the baddy was, but I certainly missed out on a lot of the reasoning and there were twists I didn't see coming. I lost about a day and a half to this book and I don't regret a minute of it. It was my first Lisa Jewell, but it certainly won't be my last and I'm already thinking that I might indulge myself in some audiobooks.
If this book appeals we have reviews of other excellent books written by Lisa Jewell. Whilst I was reading Invisible Girl I was put in mind of William Shaw's DS Alexandra Cupidi novels. I fell as heavily for Cupidi's daughter, Zoë, as I did for Saffyre Maddox.
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