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We have some great books due for release this Thursday and to help you decide which ones to pre-order I am posting all of the reviews ahead of publication.
After reading The Making of Us a few weeks back I was looking forward to reading Lisa Jewell's new up and coming release Before I Met You. The book is set in two time periods the 1990's and the 1920's each chapter alternates between these time periods.
We first meet our two main characters as little Elizabeth or Betty as she is soon to be referred to moves to Guernsey to live with her step-grandmother Arlette. As the years go by Betty finds herself looking after her grandmother after she falls ill meaning that all of Betty's friends leave the island for study or work and Betty is left to care for her grandmother but as time moves along Arlette dies and leaves a difficult task in her will. She has left a large sum of money to a Clara Pickle problem is no one has ever heard of her and they have a year to find her and if they are unsuccessful then the money goes to Betty.
Betty decides to take on the challenge of finding the mysterious lady as she travels to London and unravels many episodes of Arlette's younger life.
In between following Betty who is trying to unravel details of Arlette's past we are shown Arlette's life through her own eyes so we know the missing pieces of the puzzle.
For any of you who follow my twitter updates or Goodreads you will know that when I started this book I was finding it rather hard to get into and having loved all of Lisa Jewells previous books I thought this was going to be the first one I wasn't going to enjoy or even finish. The book starts of at a very slow pace and had the feeling that everything was being dragged out a little but let me say this now before you think my review is just going to be a big put down of this book, I am SO glad I carried on!
The book does flow at a very slow and delicate pace but once we get involved with the characters and the storyline we see that it is the perfect pace around such a warm and delicate storyline. I loved the structure of the book where we travel back and forth in time and it did feel at times when we were reading parts of Arlette's life that whilst Betty was searching for clues she seemed to be living a modernised version of Arlette's life.
I also loved the small references which were used to create the feel of the 1920's such as not having a mobile phone to contact people and funny enough Betty finds herself in a similar situation waiting by a public phone for her phone calls! In all honesty I couldn't say that I preferred either characters storyline over the others as I felt that they complimented each other.
I liked the feeling of unknown all the way through the book, never knowing if the mystery of Clara Pickle will be solved this was what kept me hooked. There really was a mix of emotions and content in this book there were some heartbreaking moments and I did find Arlette's life very glamorous.
If you are looking for a traditional, delicate and yet charming little read this is most definitely the book for you.
I love Lisa Jewell's style of writing and always look forward to her new books with relish. I've just read her latest book, 'Before I Met You', and I have enjoyed it just as much as all her others. What I particularly liked though was the fact that it was also very different from her other books and was a really refreshing read.
'Before I Met You' tells the story of two women - Arlette and Betty - who belong to different generations. Arlette was Betty's step grandmother who she was devoted to and cared for until the day she died. After Arlette's death though, Betty and her family are surprised, when the will is read, to learn of an unknown beneficiary. With very little to go on, Betty moves from her home in Guernsey to Soho to try and solve the mystery. What follows is an intriguing and absorbing read that alternates between the 1920s and the 1990s as the reader follows both Arlette's and Betty's stories.
I loved finding out about both women and reading about their lives in Soho in completely different eras. It was fun to read about the bustle and excitement of the area and compare the differences between the twenties and the nineties. Arlette's life in the twenties was at times frivolous but also quite tragic as she is forced to make a choice between two different men. Betty also finds herself faced with similar choices in her parallel life in the nineties. I really felt for both women as I found out more about them. I also loved following Betty's trail to find the mysterious Clara and I enjoyed piecing the pieces together alongside her.
Surrounding Arlette and Betty are a wonderful array of colourful characters - market stall holders, jazz musicians, ageing rock stars, to mention just a few - and these really added to my reading enjoyment. Lisa Jewell always creates believable characters that are so easy to like and to become involved with. It was also interesting to compare the characters from the different eras and this also exposed the social attitudes of the times.
'Before I Met You' is an immensely enjoyable and moving story that had me hooked from the very first pages. I particularly liked the way that the story kept switching between the past and the present and kept on revealing more and more small details to digest and unpick. I also loved the way that the mystery of Clara's existence was unravelled little by little, and although I had my suspicions about her identity I was still able to be surprised. If you want to know whether she is actually found you will have to read the book. It's also an extremely heart warming and moving story and it's a wonderful story that Lisa Jewell has created.
As you can probably tell, I think that 'Before I Met You' is brilliant and I definitely recommend it.
THis review has previously appeared under my name at www.curiousbookfans.co.uk