The Girls in the Garden
By Lisa Jewell
Atria Books, Hardcover, 9781476792217, June 2016, 320pp.
The Short of It:
The “girls” in this garden have plenty of secrets and that made this a really hard book to put down.
The Rest of It:
After their house is burned down by their mentally ill father, Grace and Pip find themselves in a new flat in London. Their mother, Clare, hasn’t given them all of the details of their father’s care but the reality is that she’s afraid of what their future holds and not sure if the marriage can be saved.
In the meantime, she’s moved them to this lovely neighborhood which includes a private park (garden) for the inhabitants who live there. This common area is where all of the families hang out, mainly the children, so Grace and Pip find themselves the focus of much scrutiny if not friendship. As they begin to make a place for themselves, Clare finds herself fascinated with her neighbors, mainly the seemingly perfect Adele and her attractive husband Leo.
Then, in the midst of all this perfection, one of the girls is found unconscious after a neighborhood celebration and everyone has their own suspicions as to what happened.
This was a really good read. There is so much to consider. The characters are well-developed and Jewell does an excellent job of tossing doubt around without being too obvious. The setting was a huge draw for me. You know that scene in the movie Notting Hill where Anna Scott and William Thacker jump the fence into that private park? Well, the setting in this book is just like that one. Green, lush, private and filled with secrets. It’s wonderful to be surrounded by so much beauty but also alarming to always be on display, There is no privacy since all of their homes open onto this common area. Imagine kids coming and going and adults partying at all hours, etc.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Each and every time I picked it up I just wanted to keep reading. Jewell’s handling of what happened that night, along with the very real concerns that Clare has regarding her family, are balanced beautifully.
Jewell has written lots of other books so now I feel the need to read them all. Have you read any of her books?
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