The Girls by Lisa Jewell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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?
A very intriguing blurb on the back attracted me to this book. A communal garden square, friendly neighbours where children run free and a girl found in one of the dark corners of the gardens one Midsummer night. What happened to her? Who is responsible?
Beautifully written this is essentially a family drama/psychological thriller - good well developed characters, family secrets and lies, jealousy, love, hate and all these elements pulling the residents of this community together around a beautiful communal garden in a leafy part of London. There is a sense of 'country' about this garden, it feels 'safe' and children from the houses and flats around the garden all use it to socialise and let their children play.
When a fire destroys the family home, Clare and her two children Pip and Grace move into a flat overlooking this beautiful community garden where they make friends with the 'gang' of other adolescents and Clare makes friends with some of the parents. It's not long before we learn that some 30 years before a young girl called Phoebe died in the garden. Pip the youngest daughter makes friends with an old lady she sees in the garden who has a giant rabbit on a lead, the old lady tells Pip a lot about the gardens and about the unfortunate Phoebe. Pip spends most of her time writing to her absent father and we get a good sense of her feelings and fears from her letters. Grace her elder sister is everything an adolescent child would be, rebellious, selfish, sometimes very hurtful in her dealings with Pip and of course secretive.
Well developed secondary characters who really gave this story several dimensions, very intriguing backgrounds and family skeletons in cupboards help to add to the mystery and appeal of this novel. Lisa Jewell manages to create characters who on the surface of things appear well adjusted and normal but dig a little deeper and cracks begin to appear in their lives and the past becomes entwined with the present and what happens on that Midsummer night in the gardens begins to affect all the residents one way or another.
This is not a heart racing thriller but the pace is good and although you might think you know the answers Lisa manages just to throw in enough 'red herrings' to put you off the scent until the end.
Good read and would recommend - a well deserved 4 stars