Review of The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell

Happy Saturday everyone! Below is the GoodReads synopsis of The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell followed by my review.

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? Dark secrets, a devastating mystery, and the games both children and adults play all swirl together in this gripping novel packed with utterly believable characters and page turning suspense.

***

When I first happened upon The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell, I was confident that I was going to adore it for two reasons: it was a mystery set in one of my favorite places in the world (London) and it was highly endorsed by JoJo Moyes. However, my high hopes were quickly dashed after about five pages of reading. While I loved the fact that Jewell threw the reader right into the action and sets up the bare bones of the mystery in the first five pages, I was quite frustrated by the fact that I was then forced to read a rather suspense-less 180+ pages of a backstory to set up an unconscious Grace being found in the rose garden. While reading this portion of the novel, I felt as though I was stuck in a relentless game of Clue, where the ties between characters seem to get more and more complicated with each roll of the dice, or in this case turn of a page. I simply couldn’t wait for someone to hurry up and figure out who attacked Grace. It wasn’t until the last hundred pages of the book that I regained interest in the story, only to be disappointed by the lack of resolution in the ending.

In terms of this being a “gripping” novel with “page-turning suspense,” I felt as though the novel was more cagey than suspenseful or mysterious. The amount of secrets that each character had and decided to either reveal at the last minute or not reveal at all was frustrating to me and didn’t really get my heart racing as I had anticipated this novel to do. However, despite the issues that I had with the structure and pace of the plot, I do commend Jewell on her writing style. Her characterization of each of the quirky characters is excellent. I could clearly hear their distinct voices and see their distinct mannerisms which made them leap off the page.

Ultimately, I was not very impressed by The Girls in the Garden, despite my initial high expectations. I would, however, be interested in reading other works by Lisa Jewell because despite my lack of interest in this particular plot, I found her overall writing style to be superb. Let me know in the comments below what your thoughts on this book or if you would recommend any of Lisa Jewell’s other works!

3 out of 5 stars

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