September 26, 2016

Book Review: The Girls by Lisa Jewell

Publication Date: June 2016

Imagine that 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 neighbors for years and you trust them. Implicitly. You think your children are safe. But are they really?

On a midsummer night, as a festive neighborhood party is taking place, preteen Pip discovers her thirteen-year-old sister Grace lying unconscious and bloody in a hidden corner of a lush rose garden. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?

Confession: I had heard some buzz about “The Girls” as a hot novel of the summer so when I was in the Edinburgh airport and had about 14 pounds to burn, I grabbed this book. Only after I had read it and went back to the review I had bookmarked did I realize that I had grabbed the wrong book. (FYI: it was referring to Emma Cline’s novel.) This book was published as “The Girls” in the UK and “The Girls in the Garden” here in the States. Confusion sorted out.

No matter. In between bouts of napping, I ripped through this book during the plane ride from Edinburgh to California. There’s something about the domestic thriller style that Jewell has mastered which reminds me a bit of Liane Moriarty – a seemingly bucolic neighborhood community that simmers with dark secrets.

“…she heard the garden whisper in their wake.  It talked to itself about the things it knew, the secrets it held close within its pathways and crannies, its bowers and corners. It whispered about the people who lived behind closed doors and the insular group of children on the bench, and of the days yet to come when the warmth of summer would bring it all back to life.”

The cracks in perfect marriages are exposed and even innocent children appear sinister. Jewell had me guessing who did what, jumping from suspect to suspect with each chapter’s revelations. An absorbing novel which will hold you captive until the end. I will definitely be seeking out other books by Jewell.

“’I’m talking about kids, Mrs. H.  Terrible, dreadful, blasted awful kids. They’ve all got a darkness inside them. They’ve all got the capacity for evil… You know, you think you’re keeping your girls all pure and unsullied in this gilded cage of yours. But what you don’t seem to realise is that you can protect children from the world, but you can’t protect children from themselves.’”

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