Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

The Girls – Lisa Jewell

Contemporary Fiction 5*s
Contemporary Fiction
5*s

I have enjoyed all of Lisa Jewell’s books mainly for her characterisation and once again in The Girls the people that live in Virginia Terrace and Crescent were the kind that I felt I’d met, I knew these people, so authentically are they portrayed.

After the characters comes the story and this is a dark one, and to my mind one of her best. Clare has moved into one of the terraces with her two girls, just a year apart at eleven and twelve. Why they are there and who they are hiding from soon becomes clear and although Grace and Pip have been through a lot in the last few months it isn’t long before they get drawn to the gang of youngsters in communal gardens. Although this is a story that largely centres on tweens and teens, and is set in London, this is a gang in the old-fashioned sense, a group of youngsters who hang out together and don’t go home in time for tea.

These gardens sound amazing covering a large area with open areas and more secluded ones. A playground offers the youngsters somewhere to meet in the summer evenings while the Rose Garden is a place to think, complete with a bench in memory of Phoebe, a girl who lived thirty years previously and died in the gardens.

The residents are a great mix, there are the family who home-school complete with a diabetic grandfather, the elderly war refugee who has stories to tell, a social worker and her neglected daughter. When Grace and Pip get invited into Adele and Leo’s apartment by their three daughters Catkin, Fern and Willow it would seem that the gang in the garden will expand to absorb the two new-comers but Pip is unsure, she’s seen and heard things that make her feel uncomfortable.

The book contains Pip’s thoughts in touching letters to her father who is away, here she pours out her thoughts on the new house complete with little illustrations, I especially loved the one of Rhea’s rabbit which is taken for walks by Pip while the rest of the youngsters gather together. As Grace’s thirteenth birthday approaches the gap between the sisters noticeably widens particularly as Grace becomes enamoured with one of the boys and Pip is nowhere ready for love complications in her life. With their mother Clare learning to acclimatise to their new home and her past, Grace is allowed the freedom to roam in the safety of the gardens. But there is danger out there camouflaged amongst the beauty and the close community.

Lisa Jewell has structured the book in such a way that because she tells us at the beginning that something has happened to one of the sisters, and then presents the characters, it became impossible not to be suspicious of every single one. Because of this, some of the delightful scenes described have long shadows cast over them in a way that I’m sure they wouldn’t had the book been told in a strictly linear fashion. With the similarities between Phoebe’s death and this new incident, comparisons are made and whispers are spread like greenfly on the roses in the garden, not helped when old secrets spill out creating conflict.

Lisa Jewell is one of my favourite authors and her later books have turned much darker without losing their brightly coloured characters. You won’t find much in the way of stereotypes in these novels but they are realistic, parts of her characters are always instantly recognisable from the efficient and loving mother Adele, to the more nervous and diffident Clare, from Leo who exudes bonhomie to Rhea who is unable to shrug off the past. You really should meet them all too!

The Girls is published today, 2 July 2015 by Random House UK who I’d like to thank for allowing me to read this book in return for this review.

My favourite Lisa Jewell books:

click on the covers to read my reviews

Before I Met YouThe House We Grew Up InThe Making of UsThe Truth About Melody Browne

Lisa Jewell Novels
• The Girls (2015)
The Third Wife (2014)
• The House We Grew Up In (2013)
• Before I Met You (2012)
• The Making Of Us (2011
• After The Party (2010)
• The Truth About Melody Browne (2009)
• 31 Dream Street (2007)
• Vince and Joy (2005
• A Friend of the Family (2004)
• One Hit Wonder (2001)
• Thirtynothing (2000)
• Ralph’s Party (1999)

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week In Books (July 1)

This Week In Books

Hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

Well it’s July, summer is here and I am currently reading The Quality of Silence by Rosumund Lupton from the chilly climate of Alaska.

The Quality of Silence
Blurb

On 24th November Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrived in Alaska.
Within hours they were driving alone across a frozen wilderness
Where nothing grows
Where no one lives
Where tears freeze
And night will last for another 54 days.
They are looking for Ruby’s father.
Travelling deeper into a silent land.
They still cannot find him.
And someone is watching them in the dark. NetGalley

I have just finished The Girls by Lisa Jewell, another winner from this author.

The Girls

My review will follow shortly

Blurb

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. NetGalley

Next up a break from the review books and onto my 20 Books of 2015! Challenge – I’m woefully behind having only read 3 so far… The Maul and the Pear Tree by P. D. James and T. A. Critchley

20 books of summer logo

The Maul and The Pear Tree

Blurb

In 1811 John Williams was buried with a stake in his heart. Was he the notorious East End killer or his eighth victim in the bizarre and shocking Ratcliffe Highway Murders? In this vivid and gripping reconstruction P. D. James and police historian T. A. Critchley draw on forensics, public records, newspaper clippings and hitherto unpublished sources, expertly sifting the evidence to shed new light on this infamous Wapping mystery.
This true crime novel begins amid the horror of a dark, wintry London in the year 1811. Using elegant historical detection P.D. James and police historian T.A. Critchley piece together new and unpublished sources in an original portrayal of the Ratcliffe Highway Murders.
P.D. James, the bestselling author of Death Comes to Pemberley and Children of Men, here explores the mysterious and intense emotions responsible for the unique crime of murder, with authority and sensitivity. Her only work of true crime, this novel uses forensics, unpublished sources and forgotten documents to create a vivid image of early-nineteenth century London and a gripping reconstruction of the Ratcliffe Highway Murders. Amazon

What have you found to read this week?

See what I’ve been reading in 2015 here

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking The Shelves (June 27)

Stacking the shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you’re adding to your shelves, be it buying or borrowing. From ‘real’ books you’ve purchased, a book you’ve borrowed, a book you’ve been given or an e-book they can all be shared!

I haven’t shown you the recent additions to my shelves for the last couple of week and once again, seeing as I’ve been being good there seems to be quite a few!

From NetGalley I am delighted to have a copy of The Girls by Lisa Jewell, I really love this authors writing style and The House We  Grew Up In is a great example of her work.
The Girls

Blurb

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? NetGalley

I also have a copy of The Insanity of Murder by Felicity Young which features Doctor Dody McCleland. I have the first of this series, An Anatomy of Death on my 20 Books of Summer challenge which I will need to read first.

The Insanity of Murder

Blurb

To Doctor Dody McCleland, the gruesome job of dealing with the results of an explosion at the Necropolis Railway Station is testing enough. But when her suffragette sister Florence is implicated in the crime, matters worsen and Dody finds her loyalty cruelly divided. Can she choose between love for her sister and her secret love for Chief Inspector Matthew Pike, the investigating officer on the case?
Dody and Pike’s investigations lead them to a women’s rest home where patients are not encouraged to read or think and where clandestine treatments and operations are conducted in an unethical and inhumane manner. Together Dody and Pike must uncover such foul play before their secret liaisons become public knowledge – and before Florence becomes the rest home’s next victim. NetGalley

I am also lucky enough to have a copy of The Mistake I Made by Paula Daly who wrote the stunning Just What Kind of Mother Are You? and Keep Your Friends Close.

The Mistake I Made

Blurb

We all think we know who we are.
What we’re capable of.

Roz is a single mother, a physiotherapist, a sister, a friend. She’s also desperate.
Her business has gone under, she’s crippled by debt and she’s just had to explain to her son why someone’s taken all their furniture away.
But now a stranger has made her an offer. For one night with her, he’ll pay enough to bring her back from the edge.
Roz has a choice to make.

Lastly I have a copy of Preserve The Dead by Brian McGilloway

Preserve The Dead

Blurb

Detective Sergeant Lucy Black is visiting her father, a patient in a secure unit in Gransha Hospital on the banks of the River Foyle. He’s been hurt badly in an altercation with another patient, and Lucy is shocked to discover him chained to the bed for safety. But she barely has time to take it all in, before an orderly raises the alarm – a body has been spotted floating in the river below…
The body of an elderly man in a grey suit is hauled ashore: he is cold dead. He has been dead for several days. In fact a closer examination reveals that he has already been embalmed. A full scale investigation is launched – could this really be the suicide they at first assumed, or is this some kind of sick joke?
Troubled and exhausted, Lucy goes back to her father’s shell of a house to get some sleep; but there’ll be no rest for her tonight. She’s barely in the front door when a neighbour knocks, in total distress – his wife’s sister has turned up badly beaten. Can she help? NetGalley

I also have added a few books to my own physical bookshelf starting with Capital Crimes: London Mysteries edited by Martin Edwards following this enticing review from Fiction Fan

Capital Crimes London Mysteries

Blurb

With its fascinating mix of people – rich and poor, British and foreign, worthy and suspicious – London is a city where anything can happen. The possibilities for criminals and for the crime writer are endless. London has been home to many of fiction’s finest detectives, and the setting for mystery novels and short stories of the highest quality. Capital Crimes is an eclectic collection of London-based crime stories, blending the familiar with the unexpected in a way that reflects the personality of the city.
Alongside classics by Margery Allingham, Anthony Berkeley and Thomas Burke are excellent and unusual stories by authors who are far less well known. The stories give a flavour of how writers have tackled crime in London over the span of more than half a century. Their contributions range from an early serial-killer thriller set on the London Underground and horrific vignettes to cerebral whodunits.
What they have in common is an atmospheric London setting, and enduring value as entertainment. Each story is introduced by the editor, Martin Edwards, who sheds light on the authors’ lives and the background to their writing. Amazon

Following my post looking at the books on my shelves that look at Women’s Lives I received many great recommendations and chose to start with this one from twitter buddy Poppy @poppypeacock; Nobody’s Child by Kate Adie

Nobody's Child

Blurb

What’s your name? Where were you born? What is your date of birth?
Simple questions that we are asked throughout our life – but what if you didn’t know the answers? Kate Adie uncovers the extraordinary, moving and inspiring stories of just such children – without mother or father, any knowledge of who they might be, or even a name to call their own.
With a curiosity inspired by her own circumstances as an adopted child, Kate shows how the most remarkable adults have survived the experience of abandonment.
From every perspective Kate Adie brings us a personal, moving and fascinating insight into the very toughest of childhood experiences – and shows what makes us who we really are. Amazon

My final addition has been on my radar for a while from a number of mentions around the blogosphere but this brilliant review by Guy Savage meant that I simply had to add This House of Grief by Helen Garner to my bookshelf.

This House of Grief

Blurb

On the evening of 4 September 2005, Robert Farquharson, a separated husband, was driving his three sons home to their mother when his car plunged into a dam. The boys, aged ten, seven, and two, drowned. Was this an act of deliberate revenge or a tragic accident? The court case became Helen Garner’s obsession. She was in the courtroom every day of Farquharson’s trial and subsequent retrial, along with countless journalists and the families of both the accused and his former wife.
In this utterly compelling book, Helen Garner tells the story of a man and his broken life. At its core is a search for truth that takes author and reader through complex psychological terrain. Garner exposes, with great compassion, that truth and justice are as complex as human frailty and morality. Goodreads

Any of these take your fancy or perhaps you’ve already read them?
What have you found to read this week? Please do share in the comments below