Book Title: I Found You
Author: Lisa Jewell
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense
Date Read: 04/20/17
Pub Date (US): 04/25/17
In a windswept British seaside town, single mom Alice Lake finds a man sitting on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, and no idea how he got there. Against her better judgment, she invites him inside.
Meanwhile, in a suburb of London, twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.
Twenty-three years earlier, Gray and Kirsty are teenagers on a summer holiday with their parents. Their annual trip to the quaint seaside town is passing by uneventfully, until an enigmatic young man starts paying extra attention to Kirsty. Something about him makes Gray uncomfortable—and it’s not just that he’s playing the role of protective older brother.
Lisa Jewell is a fairly new-to-me author; I’ve only read one of her other books as they are just making their way into the US publication system. While I enjoyed reading The Girls In The Garden, I don’t think it holds a candle to how intriguing, suspenseful, and complex of a story I Found You is. The entire plot from every angle was compelling and I could hardly put it down as I just had to find out what would happen next. The plot was broken up into multiple POVs from past and present; as you come toward the end of the novel you begin discovering that some of the voices overlap and lead to various exciting twists. The characterization, alongside the general increase in suspense and plot quality shows the tremendous amount of growth she seemingly achieves between each book; this is one of the most important qualities I search for when adding to my must read author database.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this story. Is it a mystery? Yes. Does it touch on some pretty dark topics? Also Yes. But does it somehow maintain a light and breezy feel amongst it’s characters? Yes! This is where my reviewing gets tricky; I’m not entirely sure where to place this book. The pacing is definitely on the slow burner side, at least near the beginning; I seem to be leaning heavily toward books right now that deeply explore it’s characters in lieu of heavy action moving the plot forward. I found myself lost in the detailed backstories of these damaged folks; I can’t think of a single voice in the book that hadn’t suffered some sort of trauma leading to their being who they were in the present tense. Alongside the characters, my attention was completely rapt in the ever-changing voices; I kept wondering which parts I had figured out correctly and which I hadn’t pieced together just so. Turns out I had it about 50/50; I was satisfied in the sense of working out some of the pieces but delighted that the book wasn’t fully predictable.
The most difficult piece to categorize is this whimsical feel that the book holds; the content is very serious and there are even some scenes containing disturbing violence. How did Jewell manage to keep this book from feeling so heavy and dark? Is it the dry humor infused into the narrative from feisty characters like Alice and Lily? Could it be the lack of action, yet instead more focus on character development? Do British authors just naturally sound more polite and well-spoken? 😉 I guess I’ll never know for sure, but if you are a reader who would like to branch out into something a little darker without losing a literary feel, I would highly recommend picking up Lisa Jewell’s I Found You. I enjoyed this one so much that I feel I may have to order her next book off of Book Depository as I simply can’t wait for it to make it’s way over to the states.
*Many thanks to Lisa at Atria Books for providing my copy; it was a delight to share my honest thoughts here on the blog.
Lisa was born in London in 1968. Her mother was a secretary and her father was a textile agent and she was brought up in the northernmost reaches of London with her two younger sisters. She was educated at a Catholic girls’ Grammar school in Finchley. After leaving school at sixteen she spent two years at Barnet College doing an arts foundation course and then two years at Epsom School of Art & Design studying Fashion Illustration and Communication.
She worked for the fashion chain Warehouse for three years as a PR assistant and then for Thomas Pink, the Jermyn Street shirt company for four years as a receptionist and PA. She started her first novel, Ralph’s Party, for a bet in 1996. She finished it in 1997 and it was published by Penguin books in May 1998. It went on to become the best-selling debut novel of that year. She has since written a further nine novels, as is currently at work on her eleventh.
She now lives in an innermost part of north London with her husband Jascha, an IT consultant, her daughters, Amelie and Evie and her silver tabbies, Jack and Milly.