Author: Lisa Jewell
Publisher: Atria Books
First Published: June 7, 2016
First Line: "July 5, 9:00pm - Pip stands behind her mother in the tiny bathroom."
Book Description from GoodReads: 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.
My Rating: 4/5 stars
My Review: Lisa Jewell is one of those authors who can be hit or miss with me. Some of her books I've found amazing (The House We Grew Up In) and others I wasn't fans of (I'm looking at you, The Third Wife). I'm happy to report that this book hit the spot.
In her latest book, The Girls in the Garden, Jewell has written a great, twisted whodunnit with loads of possible culprits. Her writing is quite descriptive, her prose flows well and her characters and story lines pull her readers in.
The setting was quite unique and could almost be considered a character itself. It is a large, three acre private park which the various characters' homes surround deep in the heart of central London. It's a private oasis for the residents, a gaggle of eccentric and odd neighbours. They have formed an unusual close-knit community with their children roaming the communal park and in between each others houses and where everyone seems to know everyone else's business. Or do they?
This was a very character driven read with the suspense feeling like more of a secondary aspect of the book. And while the suspense itself wasn't fast-paced I was quite captivated by it. The story starts with an incident involving thirteen-year-old Grace and then backtracks to let the reader in on the secrets and issues between the neighbours. As secrets are slowly unfurled, the reader gets a better understanding of what happened that fateful night to Grace.
While I quite enjoyed this book as a whole I was let down somewhat by the ending. It didn't feel as complete or as definitive as it should have and after reading it I would have loved to have asked the author why she ended it the way she did. That said, I don't think this mildly lackluster ending is a reason to not pick up this book. It has its strengths and I rather enjoyed the character development, the eerie feel and the issues that it raises.
For readers who enjoy well written, character driven novels this one is right up your alley. It's got a good mystery, unique characters and brings up several intriguing issues, including young love, murder, mental illness, neglect, parenting, jealousy and secrets. Oh yes, secrets abound in this one.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.