What’s it all about?:
Dark secrets, a devastating mystery and the games people play: the gripping new novel from the bestselling author of The House We Grew Up In and The Third Wife.
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?
Midsummer night: a thirteen-year-old girl is found unconscious in a dark corner of the garden square. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?
Utterly believable characters, a gripping story and a dark secret buried at its core: this is Lisa Jewell at her heart-stopping best.
What did WE think?:
CHRISSI: Did you have any preconceptions about this author before starting this book?
BETH: Hmm, I don’t think I had any preconceptions but I definitely had expectations. Lisa Jewell is a favourite author of one of my favourite bloggers, Cleopatra Loves Books and I always meant to read one of her books. I was super glad when Richard and Judy picked it as one of their books for Summer 2016 as you know we follow this list religiously and I knew I was going to finally get the opportunity to read her! Now that I have, I can see what Cleo is talking about and I’m going to make it my mission to read her back catalogue… er… eventually!
BETH: How do you think the absence of Pip and Grace’s father affects them in the novel? Does this have any bearings on what happened?
CHRISSI: What an interesting question! I do think that the absence of Pip and Grace’s father affects them in the novel, in very different ways. I feel like they did miss their father but it manifested in different ways. Grace, I believe, was more angry with her father whereas Pip missed him dearly. Her letters to him were adorable and so touching. I’m not so sure about it having any bearings on what happens but it would be interesting, if there was a father figure around, whether certain events would have played out in the same way.
CHRISSI: What do you think the location of the novel in a residential square adds to the novel?
BETH: I think it gives the story as a whole a lot more atmosphere and tension. The characters that we meet all live in very close proximity to each other and the huge gardens that surround the houses are communal. It can be a bit cliquey, and the neighbours that don’t join in with the activities are viewed with a bit of suspicion. It also offers a lot of opportunities for situations to escalate, gossip to spread and tension to rise.
BETH: This is a story about secrets – is it ever better to keep a secret than to share?
CHRISSI: Ooh, this is a particularly tricky question, especially because of the job I’m in. As a teacher working with young children we are always taught to be very careful around ‘secrets’ for child protection issues. Unfortunately, when some bad things happen to children they are asked to keep it secret otherwise there will be trouble. It’s an awkward one. When I’ve discussed the topic of secrets with my class, I always say that there are secrets that can be fun e.g. a surprise party, but some secrets can be harmful. So in answer to the question, no- it’s not ever better to keep a secret than to share. It really depends on circumstances. Secrets can hurt people but they can also protect people. Argh. Such a tricky one.
CHRISSI: Discuss the family relationships in this story.
BETH: There are quite a lot of characters to come to grips with in this novel but personally, that never overwhelmed me as the characters were written so well that I felt I knew each one of them individually which helped me connect to both them and the story. I loved the differing dynamics between the families – between parents and children, between the siblings and how the children interacted with each other across the various families. We got a wide range of personality types, parenting styles and plot twists to keep the reader turning the pages. My favourite relationship had to be Claire with her children Pip and Grace and also their absent father whose absence is a story all of its own!
BETH: Did you have a favourite character in this novel and why?
CHRISSI: I really liked Pip. I found her incredibly endearing and I thought her notes to her absent father were very endearing!
CHRISSI: Did you find this book predictable in any way?
BETH: No, not really and I’m so glad! I do feel a bit annoyed every time I can predict where a story is going and I love to be surprised and shocked as a reader. I thought I had everything figured out in terms of what happened but I certainly didn’t even though the author leaves tiny little breadcrumb clues through the narrative. The ending also was interesting in that it didn’t finish completely how I wanted but in that way it made it better if that makes any sense?
BETH: Would you read another book by this author?
CHRISSI: Yes! I really enjoyed Lisa Jewell’s writing and I can totally see why Cleo is such a fan. 🙂
Would WE recommend it?:
BETH: But of course!
CHRISSI: Of course!
BETH’S star rating (out of 5):
CHRISSI’s star rating (out of 5):