Thursday, 30 June 2016

Book Review: I FOUND YOU by Lisa Jewell


I Found You




Title:
I Found You
Author: Lisa Jewell
Publisher: Random House UK Cornerstone
Read: June 2016
Expected publication: 14 July 2016



Synopsis (Goodreads):

'How long have you been sitting out here?'

'I got here yesterday.'

'Where did you come from?'

'I have no idea.'

East Yorkshire: Single mum Alice Lake finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement she invites him in to her home.

Surrey: Twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.

Two women, twenty years of secrets and a man who can't remember lie at the heart of Lisa Jewell's brilliant new novel.


My thoughts:


Alice is an artist and a mother living in a small rustic cottage on the rugged Yorkshire coastline, trying to make ends meet by creating artwork with old maps and taking in boarders. She has often been criticised by others for her bad judgment when it comes to men, which has given her three beautiful children from three different fathers, and some strange lovers in between. But Alice is just the archetypical mother figure with a kind heart, who gives her affections freely and cannot resist taking in strays – her kitchen is often full of hungry teenagers wanting to be fed and housed, knowing they are always welcome. So it is only natural that Alice will feel pity for the stranger who appears on the beach one day, sitting forlornly in the rain, unable to remember how he got there and who he is. She names him Frank, takes him into her house, feeds him and offers him shelter, much to the disgust of her best friend, who is by far not as trusting. The stranger is clearly hiding something – is Alice putting herself and her children in danger?

In a parallel storyline, we get to know newly-wed Lily, a recent immigrant from Kiev who is waiting for her husband Carl to come home – only he never does. Alone in a foreign land without money or family, she tries to work out where he has disappeared to, enlisting the help of his closest – and as it turns out perhaps only – friend. But who is Carl really? When she goes to the police to report him missing, Lily is confronted with shocking news about her husband she has no explanation for.

As I have said in previous reviews of Lisa Jewell’s books - I really enjoy the way she develops her characters through vivid imagery and dialogue  and allows the reader to get into their heads, slowly disclosing their deepest darkest secrets. I loved the way Jewell describes Alice, in her full warm and loving self. With vivid imagery of the wild Yorkshire coast, I could clearly picture Alice’s little cottage perched there on the beach as Alice looks out of her window and spies the stranger sitting in the rain. So life-like was her character that I could almost smell the stew cooking on Alice’s stove and hear the teenagers’ chatter as they are clambering for warmth and comfort in her cosy country kitchen. Jewell knows how to set a scene, and I felt I was there amongst it all, feeling the salt spray on my skin as the story unfolded.

As in her previous novels, Jewell does an excellent job in slowly unveiling inter-personal relationships, exploring family dynamics and maintaining a subtle underlying thread of tension and suspense throughout the novel. With a bit of romance, suspense and crime thrown into the mix, this novel transcends different genres and should appeal to readers of different ages and with different reading preferences.  So why only 3.5 stars? Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed the main story, there were elements in the mystery which didn’t quite add up for me without having to suspend disbelief – a lot! Without giving anything away, I found it hard to get my head around the actions of one of the female characters later in the novel.  Perhaps, if her character had been as well developed as that of Alice and Lily, I may have had more understanding for her decisions - but as it was it simply confounded me and took away some of the seamless flow of the rest of the novel, tainting its conclusion for me. However, endings are strange things and what works for one reader might not work for another, so it is definitely worth judging for yourself on this one!  

I was really excited to receive a copy of this book through Netgalley and enjoyed the opportunity to review it. If you have not picked up any of Lisa Jewell's books yet - what is stopping you?

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.




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