“ Author: Lisa Jewell / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 09 April 2009 / Genre: Modern & Contemporary Fiction / Publisher: Cornerstone / Title: The Truth About Melody Browne / ISBN 13: 9781846055720 / ISBN 10: 1846055720 „
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I have read one Lisa Jewell novel before, 'Thirty-nothing', which was not that impressive to me as a piece of writing. I was going to avoid other works by Lisa Jewell altogether even though I can be partial to a bit of chick lit, but a few other reviewers assured me that she was not that bad and my experience was probably a one off. I was not sure, but respecting their judgement, I picked up another of her books to give her another chance.
Other than the main female character being in her 30s, there was very little in common with what I read in her last novel. The writing was gripping, I felt strong involvement and attachment to the story and characters from the start, and I really enjoyed reading this.
Melody Browne is the main character. Aged 33, she has single handedly raised her 17 year old son Edward on her own, after her parents through her out of their house when she was only 15. Her life is not easy, but she has made a home for the two of them in a flat off Covent Garden. Her son is about to turn 18, and she is starting to wonder about the rest of her life.
Melody is a really fascinating character as her earliest memory is of her father rescuing her from a house fire when she was 9 years old. She can't remember any events before this.
After meeting a man called Ben, who takes her on a date to a hypnotists show, she has a strange reaction and starts to remember things from her past which unbalance her, as she is not sure if she is going mad.
This sets her off on a journey of discovery to find out the truth about herself and those missing years.
I found the idea of the book really interesting. The mind is an amazing thing and it is entirely possible that it would shut down to protect you against things that might cause upset. The idea it has been then unblocked through hypnotism also enthralled me.
The way her memories were revealed a little bit at a time till you got somewhere near the whole picture and knew all of Melody's story was very skillfully done. Although Melody was confused, I didn't feel confused myself as the reader, and it was well written showing how the child was perceiving events that happened at the time.
I was left feeling many different emotions as I was reading. Not strong enough to move me to actual tears as some novels have, but the layers in the story did provoke though and get me emotionally carried along with the story.
I find it weird that the same author could write two novels that are so strikingly different, one not realistic and not that moving to me, and the other a really gripping page turner that had me hooked for nearly 400 pages.
I am definitely persuaded to see what else Jewell has written to see if it appeals to me.
The first thing Melody Browne remembers about her life is being nine years old and lying on the pavement as her house burned down. Any memories before that were wiped out, along with all of her family's possessions, such as photo albums and keepsakes- all of the things that could have given her a clue to her life before the fire.
Now aged 33, Melody is living a happy life with her teenage son in London, despite the fact she lost contact with her parents after falling pregnant at 15.
When Melody visits a hypnotist show on her first date in years, she collapses after being hypnotised. Then strange things begin to happen - she begins to recall things that happened before the fire. She starts remembering people and places. As Melody goes in search of her past, she starts to make some shocking discoveries. Every time she thinks she is close to finding out the truth, it seems there is a new twist to the tale. Will Melody ever find out what happened in those missing nine years?
I love Lisa Jewell's books and count her as one of my favourite authors. I had been looking forward to reading this since it was released, I'm only sorry that it took me so long, because I loved it! I'm a slow reader with a terrible attention span and often find it difficult to 'get into' a story if it is slow to start, but thankfully this book grabbed me as soon as I began reading and I could barely put it down. The reader is told about the fire straight away, so we know Melody has a secret past, and this grabbed my attention and made me want to read on to find out what had happened.
The pace of the book is fast, and there is always something happening, and so many twists and turns you are kept guessing all the way through. Although the book frequently flits between the past and the present, it never becomes confusing and I enjoyed reading about both of Melody's 'lives' in equal measure.
I've said this before, but the thing that I really like about Lisa Jewell's books are that her characters always seem very real. Often with books of this genre, you will find girls who live in lovely apartments, spend a fortune on designer brands and spend their evenings in cocktail bars. Melody in contrast lives in a council flat and shops in Primark (she sounds a bit like me actually!!). I suppose her life is just less convenient than that of most chick-lit heroines, which makes her easy to identify with and that coupled with her down to earth nature meant that she was a character I loved.
I've been trying to think of a way to describe the tone of this book and whilst I was going to say dark, I think 'sad' might be more appropriate really. I did shed a tear or two as we learn about Melody's childhood, but I'm quite soft and so perhaps that was just me! Learning about what Melody's mother went through, the consequences of it and how it affected Melody was really heartbreaking, especially as this was a young child we were learning about. I think I, as an adult would find it difficult to cope with, so it was moving to read about a child having to deal with so much so young.
Usually when a book contains lots of characters I find myself getting very confused. As Melody unravels her past, we meet a large number of different people, but I never found myself getting mixed up. I think possibly this was down to the fact that the people she met were so different and unique, that they all really stood out from each other. I actually really enjoyed meeting the different characters and finding out about them all, especially Melody's mother and father.
To conclude, I would have to say that this is my favourite Lisa Jewell novel so far. It's a bit different from her other novels, but I found it thoroughly enjoyable and I would recommend it 100%.
Lisa Jewell is definitely one of my favourite authors, and as I had read many very positive reviews about her book The Truth About Melody Browne (published April 2009) I was really looking forward to reading it. It turned out to be a compellingly beautiful and poignant book and I wasn't the least bit disappointed. It was the sort of book that I did not want to put down, and in fact I didn't put it down much until I was finished.
Melody is a single mum and had her son Ed when she was only fifteen. Her life is quiet but quite good although she has not seen her parents since having Ed. However, the thing that is missing in Melody's life much more than her parents, is her memories. She was rescued from a house fire when she was nine years old and as a result has no memories of anything that happened in her life before that time. She is not too bothered by this but when she takes part in a hypnotist's show and faints, she starts feeling very disorientated. Gradually her memories start returning and to her great shock she discovers that there are many things about her life that have been a lie.
This fascinating story then alternates between the present and the past with Melody slowly piecing together the different parts of her own story. And it is a pretty poignant story too with many tragic things happening to the young Melody Browne (or Ribblesdale as she once was known). It is quite heartbreaking to read of some of the things that happened to Melody and also of the little girl's determined nature to make the best of things. The good thing is though, that through discovering the truth, she starts to get a greater sense of identity and begins to understand why she perhaps never connected with her parents as well as she felt that she should have done. Also, as she starts to trace some of the people that she is remembering from her past, there suddenly starts to be a bit of a network for the previously isolated Melody.
I really liked Melody's character and I liked the way that the reader discovered things about Melody's past in the same way that she did. Many of the things that had happened were far from predictable and it kept you wondering what she would unearth next. I also enjoyed the way that the story alternated between the past and the present as with each little snippet revealed you were able to see the impact on Melody and the way she was feeling now.
I thought that the entire story was very well paced and it grabbed my attention from the very first moment and kept my interest throughout. It is the sort of book that you don't want to put down so as a consequence I managed to read the whole book (just under 400) pages in just a few days. The storyline is refreshingly different and definitely piques the reader's interest from very early on. If you want an entertaining and intriguing read I would definitely recommend this book.
The paperback is currently available on Amazon for £5.49 (February 2010).
** WHAT IS IT ABOUT? **
When she was nine years old, Melody Browne's house burned down, taking every toy, every photograph, every item of clothing and old Christmas card with it. But not only did the fire destroy all her possessions, it took with it all her memories - Melody Browne can remember nothing before her ninth birthday.
Now in her early thirties, Melody lives in a council flat in the middle of London with her seventeen-year-old son. She hasn't seen her parents since she left home at fifteen, but Melody doesn't mind, she's better off on her own. She's made a good life for herself and her son and she likes it that way.
Until one night something extraordinary happens. Whilst attending a hypnotist show with her first date in years she faints - and when she comes round she starts to remember. At first her memories mean nothing to her but then slowly, day by day, she begins to piece together the real story of her childhood. Her journey takes her to the seaside town of Broadstairs, to oddly familiar houses in London backstreets and to meetings with strangers who love her like their own. But with every mystery she solves another one materialises, with every question she answers another appears. And Melody begins to wonder if she'll ever know the truth about her past...
** WHAT I THOUGHT **
The book skips back and forth between the present and the past (as Melody begins to remember bits and pieces of her life before the age of nine). This keeps you on your toes, and I found really keeps you interested and guessing what will she remember next.
I really enjoyed the book, and Lisa Jewell is a great writer. She very cleverly captures moments in Melody's past and incorporates them well into her present. The whole thing is weaved together very well. I particularly liked the references to her remembering from the sight or smell or something, as I think everyone can relate to this. Her writing of relationships between both siblings and mother and child are very touching.
I warmed instantly to Melody, and the book has a great pace which keeps you page turning right until the very end. It deals with some deeper issues that you wouldn't expect from looking at the pastel-coloured chit lit cover, and it may well make you cry in places.
So....if you want to know the truth about melody browne - then look no further and get your hands on a copy of Lisa Jewell's latest novel.
For quite awhile now I haven't been reading any chick lit, and have started to become a bit of a snob about these kinds of books. So many of them just seem to be the same story over and over, and so I gave them up and started reading more "serious" novels. Every now and then though I just want to read something easy and fun, and it was because of this that I picked up The Truth About Melody Browne. It ended up being much more enjoyable than I expected, and I have to say I was really gripped by the story.
Years ago I read Ralph's Party and Vince & Joy, so I knew that I really liked Lisa Jewell, and the premise of this book sounded interesting--a woman who has no memory of her life before the age of nine, when a house fire destroyed all her possessions and her memory, suddenly, at the age of thirty three, begins to remember flashes of her past. She then begins to realise that her childhood was not at all what she might have imagined, and she begins trying to unravel the mystery that is her own life.
Melody Browne lives a fairly isolated life in London with her teenage son, estranged from her parents, avoiding opportunities to broaden her horizon and meet new people, thinking that she is fine with the way she is. The story moves back and forth between the childhood that she can't remember, and her present life, in which she is slowly beginning to piece together the time before she was nine years old.
The way the chapters switch back and forth between Melody's extraordinary childhood and her current life mean builds the anticipation of what will happen next, and the colourful characters in her early life contrast with the small world that Melody has built herself as an adult. I was completely hooked by the slow revelation of the tragic childhood Melody had completely forgotten, wondering how she could have gotten to where she was when her house was destroyed by a fire. As the shocking events that Melody endured are revealed, I had real trouble putting the book down, and felt that I was constantly kept guessing as to what would happen next.
As Melody learns more about who she was as a small child, she starts to realise who she is now, and who she could become. It is a story which gives an interesting take on identity, and the different ways people's lives can turn out, based on the various events that can change the course of someone's life completely and instantly. I found all these themes to be interesting, as well as the focus on memory and its subjectivity.
I loved the way the chapters portraying Melody's forgotten childhood were told. I found it really interesting the way that Melody, as a small child, witnessed the events that took place around her, and how she saw the adults in her life and the things they did. These chapters really did seem to reflect well the point of view of a resilient child, trying to understand what is going on, trying to take care of her mother, trying to find the good in her strange situation. I wouldn't want to go too much into what is revealed about her childhood, as the slow revelation is what makes this book so difficult to put down, but I will say that Melody experiences some terrible and strange events. Yet she copes remarkably, and I felt very much that her thoughts in these chapters reflected the way a small child probably would view these bizarre twists in her life.
I enjoyed this book thoroughly, I found it to be imaginative, surprising, well-written, and touching. I breezed through it, reading it in about two days, and while I couldn't wait to find out what happened, I wished when I got to the end that I hadn't. There are funny moments, and terribly sad moments, and Melody and many of the other characters are so well drawn that they really come to life while you read. I would highly recommend this book, and would not be surprised if I myself read it again. It was unpredictable and insightful, and easy to lose yourself in. I finished it about half an hour ago, and couldn't wait to write this review--and I think I will be thinking about this book for some time to come.
The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell, one of my favourite authors, was published in 2009. I'm often rather mean about chick-lit (sorry to those who are fans) because I find it predictable, silly, samey and usually badly written. Jewell, however, writes chick-lit with a difference - I even hesitate to tar her with the chick-lit brush. Her writing is funny, touching, intelligent and deeply absorbing.
So I was really looking forward to The Truth About Melody Browne. It was on my bookcase for a while before I got round to reading it, as I was waiting for a time when I could really relax and get into it, with no distractions. This time came recently, and so I got stuck in.
The Truth About Melody Browne tells the story of...Melody Browne, oddly enough. She lives in London with her teenage son, and has an average life. But one day a hypnotist somehow unlocks her lost memories: she could remember nothing from before a house fire aged nine. She embarks on a voyage of discovery...
Melody is a wonderfully average character. She's a single mum in her early thirties, works as a dinner lady and lives with her son in a cosy flat. She is by no means perfect, and doesn't have some high flying or exotic career like so many chick-lit characters do. She's one of us, and although her life doesn't actually bear any resemblance to mine, I felt I identified with her just because she is normal. She has doubt and uncertainty, just like we all do.
The story is, as far as I am aware, quite original. Although there is a love interest present, it is very much a sideline to the main story of Melody learning her past. At first this comes in bits and pieces, then starts flooding in. The reader knows much more than Melody, as the narrative flips between past and present, while she just has flashes of memory, perhaps the image of a house or person, or something someone said to her. We are given the whole picture around this flash that Melody has. The interest however is in connecting it all and getting the full picture. I did find though that some of it was quite predictable. Once I had a few pieces of information I could tell where that particular thread of the story was going.
Jewell's writing is as good as ever. Her style is intelligent, and really draws you in to Melody's world without being waffle. The use of past and present sections to tell the story works really well, as I knew more than Melody, but still not enough to know the whole story before she did, despite some predictability. It took me a while to figure out her family situation, and tragedies which were revealed took me by surprise.
There was something different about The Truth About Melody Browne compared to Jewell's previous novels, although it was quite hard to put my finger on it. I think the difference is that she usually writes about a group of characters whose lives become entwined, whereas here it is one main character who has a number of stories to connect, and who gradually introduces other characters involved in her story. It was also a noticeably shorter novel.
It took me a few chapters to get into The Truth About Melody Browne, but once I did, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wouldn't rate it as highly as Vince and Joy, my favourite of Jewell's novels which is just brilliant, but it's certainly a great read - yet another cracking novel from Lisa Jewell.
I picked this book up at the supermarket, having never read Lisa Jewell before, and it has languished in my reading pile for a few months. Then, Sunday came along, nice day in the garden - so I picked this up.
The book centres around Melody, a 33 year-old dinner lady and single mum to 17-year-old Ed. She hasn't seen her parents for years and can't remember her childhood before the age of nine - when her house burned down.
Then, on her first date for years, she is called up on stage by a hypnotist and is regressed to being five. Afterwards, she begins to remember her childhood, and discovers the unusual, often tragic life she led as a child. In the process of finding out about her childhood, she changes dramatically.
The book is written with chapters in the present day and chapters that take place in Melody's childhood - not as flashbacks but like they were happening at the time.
At first, I found it hard to like Melody, but as you discover more about her, you understand her personality and grow to feel quite attached to her. The chapters in her childhood are written from her eyes and so we get quite an interesting child's perspective on very adult issues - such as death, depression, sex and loss. This actually makes the novel much more interesting as well as more moving.
Although the subject matter is often quite heavy, the book doesn't feel like that, the chapters are short and easy to read.
We do get to meet a lot of characters - some that are easy to warm to and some who it is harder to understand but who you can still feel sympathy for.
The only area I found that could have been done better was Melody's romantic relationship with Ben - there was no spark and no build-up to this and it was meant to be very significant to Melody, but it didn't really feel real. Obviously, it wasn't the main point of the story, but it could have been better done.
Overall though, I really enjoyed this book, it was quite emotional and it was quite gripping. In fact, I stayed up late to finish reading it, which is always the sign of a good book. I would definitely recommend reading it and I shall be checking out more of her novels now I have read this.
Having just read the Book Thief and rated it five stars, I can't quite bring myself to rate this quite as highly, but it's certainly worth four.
After finishing Lisa Jewell's most recent novel (After The Party), I soon realised that there was one of her books that I missed...'The Truth About Melody Browne'.
This has to be one of the best books I have read recently, a lot better than Lisa Jewell's more recent release.
When Melody Browne was 9 years old, her house burned down and took all of her memories previous to that with it; she can remember nothing before she turned 9.
The novel is set when Melody Browne is in her early 30s, with a 17 year old son, Ed. She fell pregnant at 15 and was subsequently kicked out by her parents, who she has never seen since; so her family as she knows it is just her and her son. They live a simple life together in a small flat in Covent Garden, very unremarkable as I think Melody would describe it, but they are both happy with this.
One day she meets a man, Ben, he takes her on a date to see a hypnotist and as luck would have it, Melody is picked to go on stage and be hypnotised. The hypnotist transforms Melody into a 5 year old who is running around the stage breaking wind; very amusing for the audience...that is until she faints.
After this moment, Melody does not quite feel the same anymore, she feels a bit misplaced. Due to the hypnotist taking her back to an age which she cannot remember from her own life, her brain seems to start unlocking secrets from her missing childhood. She starts remembering things that she has no recollection of...things start to pop into her head randomly and she can't make any sense of it. But slowly, she starts to piece it together, she locates places from her childhood, familiar faces start to appear, and through investigation she eventually discovers her roots.
The book jumps backwards and forwards through time. First of all you experience the fire with 9 year old Melody and her being saved by her parents, and straight after that you are with Melody in the present time, up until she becomes hypnotised and her brain is messed up.
The book then jumps back to 1976 when Melody was 3 years old; so now as the reader you are essentially learning about Melody's missing childhood before she does. It jumps backwards and forwards like this throughout the entire book, and as the adult Melody unravels more secrets from her past, you are able to experience it through the eyes of Melody as a child.
I found the way the story was told just made me want to read it and read it until I got to the bottom of the secrets of Melody's childhood, needless to say I had it finished in a matter of days.
It was exciting reading about the adult Melody and experiencing her thrills as she slowly unlocks her past. But it was also very heartbreaking to read about the young Melody and the tragic twists and turns her young life was taking.
Reading from a child's perspective was interesting because we all know children just see things in black and white, and I think Lisa Jewell has captured this brilliantly. I really felt that this was a real little girl, the way she was thinking about what was happening to her, and the way she accepted things and made her own reasons for what was happening. The way she didn't quite understand the way adults think, and why some adults act in strange ways, opposite to perhaps the way they are actually feeling. It was perfect and it really drew me into the story completely. You couldn't fail to love this little girl and take her under your wing. I was constantly wishing for her to get some good luck!
The adult Melody also drew in a lot of sympathy from me because it is clear that a lot of her past was kept from her by her so-called parents and as a result she feels incomplete and inadequate as an adult. It's as if she has no real identity or place in the world; that is until she discovers her true self and where she really came from. And as she does start remembering things, she starts to feel like more of a complete person and I was really rooting for her right from the beginning of the story, and I really wanted her to have a happy ending.
I really don't want to say too much more because the magic of the book is how her past unfolds and the shocking discoveries Melody makes on her journey. It's a brilliant and intriguing read, and although is it upsetting and tragic in some parts, it's a very heart warming tale, and as Melody discovers her family members, it restores your faith in love and new beginnings! It's a real page turner.
Very highly recommended.
Paperback RRP £7.99
Currently available on Amazon for £4.99 (May 2010)
I have always been a fan of Lisa Jewell's so on a recent book buying spree this was one I picked up - it is not actually her most recent book as she has since brought another out but, I had been waiting for it to become available in the smaller sized paperback format as I can't stand the hug chunky ones that take up double the space on my already crowded book shelves!
Lisa Jewell is a British writer who lives in London with her husband and their two daughters. She has been a successful author for quite some time now since her first book was an instant hit which was 'Ralph's Party' back in 1999. Since then her books have all been greatly received by her fans and I for one always look forward to her books as they are so easy to read and she can really grab the reader into the story. In total including her latest book Lisa has written
Melody Browne suffered as a child after a terrible house fire took away pretty much all her most precious processions including the most important of all, her memory. Melody grew up not remembering a thing from before the day after her 9th birthday and it is only when picked from an audience at an hypnotists show that things start to come back to her. Small grainy snatches of information comes at her that have no meaning or direction and as bits start to come all the time Melody starts to try and piece together what her now opening memories, are trying to remind her of. Will she ever learn the truth about her herself and what really happened before the terrible fire took away her memories?
Gosh Lisa Jewell has done so well with the character of Melody. The story starts to skip back and forth from Melody as a young child to Melody as an adult so we, as the reader, can start to make sense of what has happened and even though both characters are of course the same person the author has done an amazing job of making the reader be able to see how different Melody was a child before she became a 'different person' due to the memory loss. We see her as a vibrant child who looks at the world in a way only a child can and then as an adult who is a little cautious and happy in her own small life of just her and her son. Every time the author flips to a time of Melody as a child we see all these events that have happened to her and yet she does not now remember and we can really feel for the character knowing WE know what has happened but, the adult version of Melody doesn't!
The author has written characters into the book including Melody's now grown son and people from her life as a young child that she now longer knows or of course, remembers. Some of these really stand out in the book including her mum and her dad and also a couple of people who looked after her and each one is written in so well that you fell you know them and are there with them in the moments. It is well done that I was finding I wanted to really, really know what these characters had been up to and what their individual stories were from before Melody lost her memories!
I actually paid full price for this book which is unusual for me as normally I buy books as part of 3 for 2 deals of 2 for a set price etc but, I was having one of those days where I like nothing more than going in a good book store and just picking books up I want and buying them and so I paid the full RRP of £6.99 - however after reading this I would not hesitate to say it was money very well spent! I am sure you could probably pick up a copy cheaper if you are really wanting to save on the pennies though on many online stores.
Where do I start with this? I really wanted to write this review after reading it because it was one of those books that I read and after closing the last page of the book I just sat and thought about what I had just read because it had engaged me and pulled me in so much. Of course this book really probably falls under the 'chick lit' genre but, I would urge others to give it a try and it's not soppy romance or the usual women's kind of girly read as it is actually full of moving and thoughtful events in hat is a small child's life and those around her and also a grown women who is searching for answers she never even really knew she needed until one day questions just started to come about that needed answering.
I normally read pretty fast - not my I hasten to add because I am trying to but, simply because I am a fast reader and with this book I wanted to devour it because I was simply enjoying it so much but, I also found that the day I was reading it I was also trying to slow myself down because quite frankly I also wanted the book to last longer as I was enjoying it so much! I was deliberately making sure when I reached the end of a chapter or so I would put it down for a few minutes and go and make another cup of tea or simply do something else as even though it was so good I found I was mulling over the events in the book somewhat as I was discovering things and I wanted to have time to digest what was happening and wonder what might happen next rather than actually just carry straight on and find out! I guess this makes it sound like some very intense drama and in a way it is in disguise of a chick lit I feel as it covers so many moments where I was moved to tears, shock and suspense that I honestly felt very moved by the end and so I guess this is the only way I can describe it!
Overall this was a simply brilliant book and in fact one of my other favourite authors has summed up my feelings very well in a small piece he has written about the book and published at the beginning of the book and this is what Mike Gayle said about it:
''The truth about Melody Browne perfectly illustrates the truth about Lisa Jewell. She writes like a dream, creates characters that you really care about and tells a story so compelling that it will stay with you long after you've read the last page''
I have to say I couldn't agree more as I finished this book well over a week ago and am still mulling over how good it was so from me I am sure you can guess I give this book the full thumbs up and have to say I think this is definitely her best yet!
Having read Ralphs Party several years ago, I stumbled upon this novel by Lisa Jewell, and because the name was familiar I decided to buy it as one of my holiday books.
I will try to keep this review short and sweet as I am sure there is nothing more boring than reading a long-winded review, and nothing more disappointing than reading a spoiler.
The main character, Melody Brown, lives a simple life but feels something is missing due to a childhood loss of memory. Since surviving a fire aged nine, she can remember nothing of her childhood before this point.
Then something happens which prompts her memory to return in dribs and drabs, allowing her to slowing piece together a life she had no prior recollection of.
The story is told by the author writing in the present and present tense, and through a series of different flashbacks.
As Melody begins to reconnect with her past, she is taken on an often heartbreaking, but sometimes uplifting journey as she begins to find herself, and understand more about where she has come from.
Melody is a complex character and we often feel that the events in her past, whether or not she can remember them, have contributed to her being quite a lonely but self-sufficient woman.
She has a son, and a best friend, but apart from them she is very much a loner who finds it difficult to let people get close to her.
It's almost as if she has a wall built up around herself and is intent on self preservation, reluctant to let down the barriers and allow anyone in.
This book is extremely well written and flows easily, meaning it kept my attention throughout and was a thought-provoking and sometimes emotional read.
When I finished this book I was actually sad and had no desire to read the other fluffier books I had brought on holiday with me.
I bought this book from Waterstones for £7.99 and it was money very well spent!
I love Lisa Jewell's books because she has such a fun, chatty writing style and she is brilliant at creating quirky, realistic characters. I had initially dismissed her as "chick lit", I'm afraid to say, but have now learned never to judge a book by its cover and after reading her debut novel "Ralph's Party", I have now read all her books bar one.
"The Truth About Melody Browne" is Lisa's latest offering. Melody Browne is in her mid-thirties and lives a quiet and uneventful life as a single mum with her teenage son Ed. However she was involved in a house fire when she was nine years old and was so traumatised that she lost all memories from before that point. She decides to go on a date with Ben, who she meets on a bus - her first date in years - and he takes her to a hypnotist's stage show. Melody ends up on stage where she is hypnotised and subsequently faints. This event turns her life upside down as she starts to remember snippets of her childhood, however she is recalling people and places that have no relevance to her life after the house fire. As Melody puts her budding romance with Ben on hold and begins to piece together the memories she wonders if she will ever remember just who she is and where she came from.
I've found that Lisa tends to write quite unusual storylines with lots of twists and turns to keep you guessing, and the outcome is very rarely exactly what I expected and this book was no exception. It is written in third person from the point of view of Melody but flits between the present Melody and the five-year-old Melody. I loved this style because it means we get to see snippets of Melody's previous life firsthand, and we are putting the pieces together almost in the same way that Melody is. I didn't find the style confusing and it gave the book that "I'll just read one more chapter" quality, which means I often spent time reading it when I really should have been doing other things!
Melody is a likeable character, both as an adult and as a child although at times I felt that her dialogue was more like an older child's and I did feel the adult Melody could have been developed a bit more as I never felt I knew her as well as I knew her as a child. However I actually find that Lisa is better at creating male characters than female characters so this may have something to do with it. The story of Melody's childhood is heartbreaking in places and it focuses on a lot of heavy issues such as loss, grief, depression, mental breakdowns and family separations. It also shows the effect that the loss of a stable family life can have on a young child. However its not all doom and gloom as it also shows how strong love and friendship can be, and how it can be found in the unlikeliest of places. The young Melody is strong and deals with everything life throws at her in an admirable way, and the equally strong adult Melody deals with the sudden and shocking reappearance of her childhood memories in the same manner.
This book has dark issues in it but at the same time it isn't too heavy a read, thanks to Lisa's light writing style. There are lighter moments in it and it has an array of interesting and bizarre characters. My favourite was probably Ken, who took the young Melody under his wing and gave her at least a few happy moments in her childhood.
This is an unconventional story with an unexpected outcome, it has a plot that unfolds at a good pace and well rounded realistic characters. I enjoyed this story and look forward to reading Lisa's next offering. I would recommend it if you like chick lit as I would imagine this would appeal to chick lit lovers. However if you just like a good, well written story, you'll like this aswell.
Melody Browne is a thirty-something single mother living in London with her teenage son Ed and working as a dinner lady at his school. On paper, her life may sound utterly normal but in reality, there is something not quite right about her whole existence. Unlike most people, Melody can remember nothing before the moment she was rescued by her parents from a horrific house fire and the first nine years of her life are a total blank.
When she meets Ben, he suggests that they see a hypnotist show as part of their date. After being pulled out of the audience to be one of the 'volunteers', Melody regresses to being a five-year-old and ends up fainting. She comes round soon enough but bit-by-bit, her memory starts to return and confusing images of the past start to emerge. Is Melody really who she thinks she is?
The blurb on the back cover made me really want to read this book and I was keen to find out why Melody has no recollection of her formative years. The fainting episode happens early on in the book so the vast majority of the plot concentrates on her gradually returning memories and her attempts to piece them all together to make some sense of things.
The narrative constantly moves between the past and present, but this isn't at all confusing as the chapters are headed either with 'Now' (for the present day narratives) or the year in which the narrative has flipped back to. In the present day narratives, Melody's mind will frequently conjure up a random memory and this memory is used to propel the story backwards to the real-life event that triggered this. Given her lack of memory for her early years, Melody is not actually aware of what actually happened and this is largely background for the reader so that we know much more about her life than she does. For me, the book was really cleverly written and the constant flipping back and forth only served to increase my interest and made me more curious to see whether Melody would ever manage to piece her fragments of memory together to discover why she ended up with such a blank.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book and would thoroughly recommend it. It's a bit different to most of the chick-lit type books that I normally read as it's not fluffy and tackles some deep and quite controversial issues along the way so I'd hesitate to put it in the chick lit category despite being in that section of the books in my local supermarket. It's a very intriguing read and I wanted to keep reading to see how things panned out. It's quite rare that I'll stay up reading to see a how book ends as I tend to be able to put most books down without feeling that urge but this was an exception.
When I picked up this book I didn't really know what to expect as I didn't pick it out myself, it was just something that my mam had and I needed something new to read! Looking at it now, if I just looked at the cover I probably wouldn't have picked it up as it looks quite boring, but the blurb actually makes it seem really interesting and something that I would like to read.
The book is told in two timelines which changes every other chapter from 'now,' to 'then,' although I find that the then chapters tend to be a lot longer apart from the start of the book as there is a lot more of the story to tell in that era. Melody Browne is living a perfectly average life in London as a single mother with her 17 year old son who she had when she was a teenager, in fact its probably more boring than most. The only difference to anyone else would be that she has no memories at all before her ninth birthday. That all changes when she goes on a date to a hypnotist show, suddenly memories come flooding back. She begins to piece back her life as she realises what really went on all those years ago. I really enjoyed this book and liked Lisa Jewell's writing style, I'll definitely be looking out for more by her! It was quite a unique plot and I like it when things aren't overdone like that. Since the story was pieced together bit by bit as each memory came back, I found it really addictive and ended up sitting up in bed quite late to get it finished, it was a real page turner! It's not really your typical chick lit however, as it's not got all that much romance in it, the real focus is on Melody finding herself.
On my book there is a half price sticker, making it £4 instead of £8 which is quite reasonable but I think that I would look on amazon or wait until it was on offer again rather than pay £8. It's from WhSmith but I imagine it will be available everywhere books normally are.
I saw Lisa Jewell's The Truth about Melody Browne when it first came out in hardback last year. I have read all of her previous books and really enjoyed them, and dropped several hints about getting it for my birthday but to no avail. I have recently been trying to curb my book buying addiction, so I did not realise this had been released in paperback, but I decided I had to have The Stepmothers Support Group, and there was a 2 for £7 offer I couldn't resist getting this as well!
Melody Browne lost all her memories before she was nine years old when she was in a house fire. Now she's in her thirties living in central London with her 17 year old son Ed and very contented with the life she has provided for them both. When she meets lovely Ben on the bus, he takes her on her first date for years to a hypnotist's show where she is picked to participate, but when she is brought out of her trance she faints. When she comes to starts to remember snippets of her childhood, but the memories leave her puzzled and conflict with what she previously remembered. Melody begins a personal quiz to piece together these memories, each one bringing more questions - Will Melody ever unlock the secrets of her past?
From the synopsis of the book, and as I began to read through the book I thought the plot would be quite dark - Lisa Jewell doesn't write standard boy meets girl fluffy romance chick lit, so I knew that the storyline would be quite deep - but it was surprisingly upbeat and positive. Some of the themes covered in the book are dark, depressing and uncomfortable in places, but Melody as both child and adult seems determined to play the hand she is dealt in the best way possible. As a mother, my heart was breaking for young Melody - I just wanted to snatch her up and run away with her - but she shows a maturity beyond her years, although sometimes her understanding seems too much for a child of her age.
The book is written in the third person although it always follows Melody. This style of narrative means that you get a good picture of all the characters in Melody's life, although you do not get to know any of them too deeply. However it did find the characters of Melody's best friend Stacey and political activist Ken very well written and realistic. I found myself getting quite angry during the book at people's attitudes to Ken, as he was obviously a good man, although I'm not sure if I would feel that differently if I was his neighbour....
The chapters move between the past and the present, but it never really gets confusing - I think this is because the chapters are kept quite short and concise, allowing the reader to jump into Melody's past in small bursts in the same way she is receiving small snapshots of the past. Also by keeping the chapters short meant it was easy to pick up and put down when little man demanded some attention - I hate having to stop mid chapter!! However, I did find this book hard to put down, and had it read in two days.
This is probably one of the best books I have read for a while, and I would definitely recommend it. It's still in the book charts so you can pick it up quite cheaply in the big supermarkets, or for £4.54 on Amazon including delivery.
Paperback by Arrow Books - 460 pages.
I was looking for a new book to read and to be honest, nothing in particular was catching my eye. I began to read the blurbs and this book caught my eye. I ordered it from The Book Depository for a little under £4. When it arrived I actually couldn't wait to start reading it as I had been mulling the plot over in my head over the previous few days and was keen to get started!
Melody Browne is 33 and lives with her nearly 18 year old son, Ed in a council flat. From the beginning of the book it is obvious that she feels her life does not really have anything special in it and although she loves Ed enormously she feels as though she could have done so much more. We learn that Melody cannot remember anything from her childhood and her memories begin when her family home had a fire.
Melody does not go on dates. But when a man invites her out she decides to go, thinking there is nothing to lose. They go on the date to a psychic show and unluckily, Melody is one of the 'victims'! She faints on stage and her date rushes her home. However, over the next week Melody begins to feel rather strange, she wants to give up smoking for the first time in 18 years and keeps having odd flashbacks. However, surely they cannot be her flashbacks as they contain people she doesn't know. As more and more flashbacks come to Melody, she takes it upon herself to find out what happened before the fire and what she did in the early years of her childhood.
The book is divided into chapters and each chapter goes back and forth between the 1970s (when Melody was a young child) and the current day. To begin with I was sceptical of this layout as I thought it may not be much fun if I already knew the layout of Melody's life, before she discovered it for herself. However, I'm pleased to say I was wrong. Although we knew the basics of Melody's childhood, a great deal of information was withheld from the reader and therefore as Melody uncovers things, we learn them too. Alternatively, I quite liked knowing some things about Melody as it helped me to really warm to her and made me desperate for her to find out the truth. It was not confusing jumping back and forth between generations because the year was made clear at the beginning of the chapter and due to the characters involved it was very easy to tell which year the book is in.
The character of Melody was an absolute joy. She seemed lovely and this made me, as the reader desperate for her to uncover her past. Reading through the book I could see that as a child, she had been through an incredible amount but I was pleased to see that this had not changed her as an adult. She did a fantastic job of being a single parent to Ed and it is obvious throughout the book that he is her one and only priority. Ed is also a lovely character, quite unlike a number of teenage boys in my experience! He loves his mum very much and wants the best for her. Other characters in the modern day include Stacey, Melody's best friend who also had her first child at 15 - this is how they met. She is very good in the novel as it allows you to see how differently the pairs lives have panned out - Stacey is now married with 3 children.
The plot of the story was very good and extremely well planned out. There was not a lot of action in the novel and instead the story focussed upon following a life. Although Melody had been through an awful lot the story just uncovered these things and it all fitted together very well. I didn't find myself gasping in shock and instead the things that Melody uncovered seemed to help me make more sense of her childhood. Melody as a child went through a lot and it does lead the reader to feeling very sorry for her. However, it is not a sad story as from the beginning you already know that Melody grew into a fine woman and she is doing just fine for herself.
The plot flowed really well and I sped through the book, often failing to put it down. I was just so keen to see why particular things had happened to Melody and in which context she finally grew up, and if her childhood ever settled down. Each chapter in the book is relatively short which I found useful as I personally like to read to the end of a chapter before I put the book down, however this did pose a problem as I'd often find myself thinking 'oh just one more chapter, and another'!
The plot of the book is different to anything else I have ever read and I am very pleased that I chose to give it a go as it was really interesting and had a completely different focus to any other books I have read this year. It was so nice to read something that wasn't primarily focused around the characters love life! The uniqueness of the story works so well and from now on, I will be looking out for different kinds of stories.
The book was written by Lisa Jewell
The current price for the paperback on Amazon is £4.74
My version was published by Arrow Books on 7th January 2010 but I believe there was one version published in 2009
It has 372 pages
As you can probably tell from my review, I absolutely loved this book as it was so different to anything I had ever read before. I found it hard to put the book down as Melody's story was so intriguing and I was keen to find out what happened to her as a child. It is worth recognising that this is a happy story and although there are a few sad moments in the book, it is not about an abused child or anything which would make a tough read. Highly recommended.