Book Review: The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell

This is a review I started to write about 2 months ago. Somehow didn’t find the time or the energy to complete it. That is no reflection on the book though.

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I’ve read Lisa Jewell’s books before and have loved some of them. The blurb on Netgalley had me hooked and I just had to request it.

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 neighbours for years and you trust them. Implicitly.

You think your children are safe.

But are they really?

Clare and her daughters Grace and Pip have had to move from where they lived a happy normal life. Clare and her girls are carrying a secret. Her husband and their father has done something that has scarred and scared all of them. They hope, or rather Clare hopes that a change of scenery will give them the peace and the anonymity to go about their lives.

They move into a house with a communal garden. It feels a like a very nice place to live in, with an interesting mix of people living there. Home schooling Adele with her rather cool and popular husband, Leo, and their daughters, Rhea who has lived here for years and carries the burden of her own past and memories. The social worker mother who seems to be more concerned about her charges in her professional capacity rather than her own daughter.

Grace and Pip make friends, at least some semblance of it and find their own place in those communal garden. Grace more than Pip seems to fit it better. Pip on the other hand still wants to cling on to her old life. Her yearning for her dad and the life that they left behind is beautiful portrayed in the letters she pens him. I found Pip’s letters extremely touching and moving.

The once welcoming communal gardens take on a different persona when Pip discovers Grace bloodied and unconscious in a dark corner of the communal gardens.

What follows is an absolutely brilliant piece of work by the author. She keeps us guessing and wondering while revealing layer by layer, each of the characters. I think this is what I loved about Jewell’s writing, the characterisation. So real, so relatable. Each of the characters were so well defined. Just like how that seemingly harmless communal garden harbours deep, dark secrets, so do the people who live there.

A book I would definitely recommend. One I enjoyed reading thoroughly even with worries surfacing that this could happen to any of us, any of our children.

Rating 4/5

About the Author
Lisa Jewell (born 19th July 1968, Middlesex, London) is a popular British author of chick lit fiction. Her books include Ralph’s Party, Thirtynothing and most recently 31 Dream Street.

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