In the aftermath of a community party, a girl falls victim to a terrible attack. She’s found unconscious by her younger sister while their mother lay passed out drunk in their nearby flat.
Months earlier, in the wake of another tragedy and short on funds, Clare and her two daughters, Grace and Pip, were forced to move into a small London flat. The new home offered two positives: a chance to hide from their past and the unexpected hidden gem of a communal garden. As months passed, the family made friends amongst their neighbors. But now the quiet safety of their new existence has been shattered. And everyone is a potential suspect.
Jewell’s latest begins with the attack in question. It’s a fairly shocking start to the book, but after this opening chapter the reader is launched backward in time to “Before.” In fact, Jewell takes the story months back in the characters’ timeline with Clare, Pip, and Grace having just moved into their new flat. And it’s clear as soon as we meet this family that something horrible has happened. Something that has forced them to uproot and basically hide in this new neighborhood.
This particular start and immediate flash backward sets a great tone for the book as a whole – one that hints at secrets and possible clues to the eventual attack around every corner. That suspicion and the deliberate pacing of the book make for a quite suspenseful and utterly enjoyable read. And the end was one even I didn’t fully see coming.
7/16 Becky LeJeune
THE GIRLS IN THE GARDEN by Lisa Jewell. Atria Books (June 7, 2016). ISBN: 978-1476792217. 320p.