Review – The Girls in the Garden – Lisa Jewell

Disclosure: I was given access to a free copy of this book by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

I hadn’t heard of Lisa Jewell before I got this novel on Netgalley, but it turns out she has quite a back catalogue, including Ralph’s Party, Thirtynothing, and more recently The House We Grew Up In. The Girls in the Garden (which seems to be shortened to just The Girls by Australian publishers at least) is due for a US release 7th of June, but has been available in Australia for around a year.

girls

For the US release they have given The Girls a swanky new cover with a Contemporary Literature feel. The Australian release last year features a pastel cover, reminiscent of Jodi Picoult or Marian Keyes books, which feels like a more honest fit.

From the publisher;

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?

This was an easy read, yet compelling. Although the writing style was light, there were enough twists and turns to keep me reading, and I had it finished within a couple of days. Starting out with the knowledge that Grace is going to end up unconscious in the garden, was a clever move. I read voraciously to find out how it happened, then to find out who did it.

Literary fiction this is not, but what it is is an engaging tale, populated with interesting characters and a good dose of suspense. It moves along at a cracking pace, and is definitely plot, rather than character driven. I didn’t care much for any of the adults in the story, but Grace’s younger sister Pip was well developed, with an internal monologue that somewhat reminded me of To Kill a Mockingbird‘s Scout in its better moments. Jewell is good at what she does, crafting a setting and scenario which draws you in, but doesn’t waste time.

This one was a page turner for sure, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a light read alternative to vapid, gossipy chick lit.

I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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