The Girls – Lisa Jewell

Published by Random House/Century

2 July 2015

From Goodreads:

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?

Utterly believable characters, a gripping story and a dark secret buried at its core: this is Lisa Jewell at her heart-stopping best. 

* * * 

Lisa Jewell has definitely gone over to the dark side for her latest two books, The Third Wife (reviewed here) and now The Girls.  Both books are much darker in content than her previous novels and are almost in the psychological thriller genre. However I’m not complaining, as regular readers of this blog will know, I love a good chiller and this certainly doesn’t disappoint.

When their home is destroyed, Clare and her two daughters, Grace and Pip move into a flat in Virginia Terrace, just one of many properties surrounding a crescent shaped community garden. You would think that with so many neighbours looking out that anyone would be safe in the garden, however some people are not all they seem and it takes a tragic event for families and friendships to start unravelling under scrutiny.

Piece by piece, Lisa Jewell expertly introduces the various characters.  I have read several of her books and her talent for making characters believable and realistic always shines through, as it does here. Adele and Leo, who home school their three girls but don’t really know what they get up to when out of sight. Clare, who is struggling to cope with her new life and leaves her two girls Grace and Pip to their own devices much of the time and the elderly Rhea with her huge rabbit who has lived on the crescent for many years and who knows its history.  My favourite character by far was Pip, just 9 years old but so wise and perceptive for her years and her letters to her absent father were just so heartbreakingly sad.  

The real star of the story is the community garden.  It is so vividly described with the secluded spaces so very suitable for clandestine meetings but also set against the openness of community living and the lack of privacy.  It is where the teenagers and children of neighbouring families gather and where alliances are formed and where jealousies and insecurities come to the fore.   The garden also has a history for tragic events, as many years before a young girl was found murdered there. 

The story is very well structured.  We know from early on that something bad has happened and then the story goes back to before the event. Historic events are bought into the story and with each twist and turn, my suspicions as to who was responsible kept changing.  

Lisa Jewell has constructed a superb drama and mystery with a dark and chilling undertone. I loved it. 

My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the digital ARC. 

About the author:

Lisa Jewell was born and raised in north London, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. Her first novel, Ralph’s Party, was the bestselling debut of 1999. 

Twelve bestselling novels later, she lives in London with her husband and their two daughters. Lisa writes every day in a local cafe where she can drink coffee, people-watch, and, without access to the internet, actually get some work done.

How to find out more:


Twitter:   @lisajewelluk

Facebook:  Official Lisa Jewell Page


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