Book Title: The Girls in the Garden
Author: Lisa Jewell
Genres: Mystery, Women’s Fiction, Contemporary
Date Read: 05/30/16
Pub Date: 06/07/16
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?
Dark secrets, a devastating mystery, and the games both children and adults play all swirl together in this gripping novel, packed with utterly believable characters and page-turning suspense.
COVER LOVE! The first thing that drew me to this book on NetGalley was the cover. That mixed with the concept of living in a somewhat communal neighborhood sold me. I’ll be honest, I’ve always dreamed of what it would be like to raise my baby girls in a simpler time; one where “it took a village” and everyone’s door was always open to visitors. I think our generation has lost something important in the fact that we are so incredibly isolated as families now; not borrowing sugar from our neighbors and having another families kids over for the night so that their parents could have a night off. This book did a fantastic job of solidifying that vision for me while also bringing to light all the things that can go wrong when you are too close to your neighbors.
This particular story is told from multiple POVs. We open with a somewhat gruesome scene where a 13 year old girl is found unconscious and clothing askew. We then go back in time to fill in the events that brought us here, mainly from Pip (sister to Grace who was found unconscious), Adele (mother of friends of Pip and Grace’s who also like in the Garden), and Clare (mother to Pip and Grace). While there is the underlying mystery of what happened to Grace, there are also a few more minor side stories thrown in, one involving the absence of Clare’s husband.
While this wasn’t a heart pounding thriller, it did manage to keep my attention nicely once everything was set up. I loved the childlike drawings thrown in by Pip in the letters to her father. My favorite character was Adele; she was such a strong character and I found her sense of humor refreshing and a little lighter air when the mood was getting too somber. I also really enjoyed Gordon’s character (I know he was despicable and unlikable but he always made me laugh!); my favorite scene in the book was when he was singing:
“Cecilia, you’re breaking my heart, you’re shaking my confidence daily,” giving a showgirl kick at the doorway and wiggling his large bottom just once before disappearing.
Overall, it wasn’t what I was expecting but I thoroughly enjoyed it and will be reading more from Lisa Jewell!
* I’d like to thank NetGalley and Lisa Jewell for my copy in exchange for an honest and fair review. This did not influence my opinions and all thoughts are my own.