Before I Met You by LIsa Jewell


My Rating: 4/5

I tend to get around to Lisa Jewell’s books a lot later than they are published and I make the same mistake every single time (doh!). I pick up the book, devour it and fall in love with her latest novel. I then tell myself I’m an idiot for not reading it sooner and then by the time the next one comes around I do it all over again. With this book released in 2012, here I am again making the same mistake. With Jewell’s latest book it feels almost like she has taken a departure from her usual topics and delved into something a little bit different. In the beginning of this book we meet Betty Dean as a young girl who has moved to Guernsey to live with her Grandmother. When her grandmother dies and leaves something in her will to a mysterious woman named Clara Pickle, Betty is determined to find the woman.

On a mission to find Clara Pickle Betty arrives in grungy, 1990s Soho, ready for anything. This is the first element of the book and the second element involves Betty’s Grandmother Arlette growing up in 1920’s London. I really liked Betty’s character and adored the fact that she was seeing London through a young girls eye’s in the nineties (my age is showing somewhat there). Although I really liked Betty I was surprised to learn that I actually liked Arlette’s story just as much. I had stupidly made the assumption that London in the 1920’s would be a little boring and predictable, how wrong was I?

I was quickly drawn into both women’s lives and the nice thing about this book is that the layers are revealed gradually. The more we learn about Arlette, the more we see Betty discover about the mysterious Clara Pickle. I didn’t particularly like the fact that a rock star happened to live opposite Betty when she moves to London, but the story was driven the right way in my opinion.

Any other outcome for that particular storyline may well have ruined the book for me. Arlette and her friends from that era were extraordinary and I really could picture their hedonistic and glitzy lifestyle in the twenties. Although this was a slight move from Jewell’s usual stuff I loved it and thought the story was heartfelt and very interesting. I was certainly hooked and found that the slight element of mystery surrounding Arlette made it that little bit more intriguing.

I managed to read the last quarter in a couple of hours and found myself once again berating myself for leaving it so long to read this book. I wouldn’t say it was my favourite Lisa Jewell book but it made a refreshing change to read something a little different and I would certainly recommend it.

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