The Girls by Lisa Jewell
|The Girls by Lisa Jewell|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Louise Jones|
|Summary: The discovery of a young girl who has been attacked rocks a close-knit community to the core in this gripping mystery story.|
|Buy? yes||Borrow? yes|
|Pages: 432||Date: May 2016|
|External links: Author's website|
When Clare takes her two tween daughters Pip and Grace to live in leafy Virginia Terrace, she is hoping for anonymity, a blank slate and a fresh start. Not so long ago, her story was in all of the newspapers when her paranoid-schizophrenic husband burned down the family home. Her new house seems a world away from her previous life. The crescent has a communal garden at its heart, where friendly neighbours socialise and children can run free. But does this new freedom come with a price?
Clare's world comes crashing down one Summer's evening, when her young daughter Grace is found lying unconscious in the gardens, her face a bloodied mess. She has clearly been the victim of an attack, but in this seemingly close-knit and trusting community, who could the perpetrator possibly be? The book is split into two halves: the events before and after the attack.
This was my first Lisa Jewell novel and the thing that struck me most about her writing was how powerfully character-driven the plot was. Each individual is written with detail and care, adding an extra dimension to the narrative. Naturally, we have our fair share of potential suspects. Could our attacker be Leo, the 'almost-perfect' husband of their friendly neighbour, who seems just a little too touchy-feely with his daughter's friends? Or what about his lecherous, obnoxious father who is staying with the family whilst he recovers from surgery? Maybe the attacker is the learning-disabled brother of Grace's friend Dylan, or perhaps Dylan's best friend Tyler who seems jealous of the new girl. There are plenty of red herrings and plot twists that compelled me to scour the pages in search of answers. In fact, I managed to read the whole book in less than two days.
Jewell manages to create an unsettling world, where everything seems cosy and welcoming on the surface, but the undercurrents threaten to sweep away the unwary entirely. This is especially true when it comes to the contrast between the comfy home-life of Grace's three home-schooled friends and the way they behaved when left to run unsupervised in the communal gardens. It is both distressing and disturbing to be allowed into the secret world that the children inhabit; a world where innocence belongs to yesterday.
Unfortunately, the fantastic setting, plot and characters cannot save what is ultimately a very disappointing denouement. The explanantion of the attack is so far-fetched as to be ridiculous, everything is tied up a little too neatly and justice is not ultimately served. I actually felt cheated by the ending because it was terrible a waste to let such a powerful story fade out with a whimper.
Can't get enough of Lisa Jewell? Bookbag loved After the Party, a humorous tale which showcases the author at her very best.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Girls by Lisa Jewell at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Girls by Lisa Jewell at Amazon.com.
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