EXCERPT: ‘Have you seen Grace?’
They all look at each other and shrug. Dylan sits up straight. ‘Isn’t she at home?’
Pip feels a cold chill of dread pass down her spine. ‘No,’ she says. ‘I haven’t seen her for hours.’
‘She said she was going in,’ says Catkin. ‘About an hour ago. She must have changed her mind. Have you checked our flat? Maybe she’s hanging out with our parents?’
Pip wanders across the lawn, through the remains of the party, bunting fluttering darkly from trees, bin bags in piles ready to be removed the next morning, piles of folded chairs and dismantled gazebos stacked under trees. She can see the light from the Howeses’ apartment glowing from here, empty now after a day long party, the party she and her mother had been at earlier, where her mother had drunk too much wine and had to excuse herself, barely able to walk in a straight line.
Then she cries out and clutches at her chest when a figure appears at her side. it is Max, the football mad loner of the community. He’s only nine, three years younger than her. She can’t believe he’s still out here, wandering alone at this time of night. As ever, he is holding his beloved football, squeezing it tight against his stomach. he looks at Pip, his eyes wide and appalled. He looks as though he’s about to say something, but no words come. He turns then and runs, down the hill, toward the lights.
Pip watches him go, feeling that something is wrong.
“Grace!’ she calls out. ‘Grace!’
There is something on the brow of the hill, a strange shape emerging from the hedge that encircles the Rose Garden. She heads toward it.
‘Grace!’ she calls again. ‘Grace!’
As she nears the shape, she can see it is a foot. She holds her breath deep inside her body and rounds the corner timorously.
The foot is attached to a person. Pip passes the beam from her mobile phone across the figure: a girl, half undressed. Shorts yanked down to her thighs, floral camisole top lifted above small naked breasts. Her hair is spread about her. Her face is a bloodied mass.
ABOUT THIS BOOK: 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 neighbours for years and you trust them. Implicitly.
You think your children are safe.
But are they really?
Midsummer night: a thirteen-year-old girl is found unconscious in a dark corner of the garden square. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?
MY THOUGHTS: Talk about nostalgia…..the children running about the big communal garden brought back memories of when I was a child (younger than most of those in this story) and we all wandered together between houses, and instead of a communal garden, we had paddocks to play in. Our mothers never worried about us, I’m sure they could usually hear us, because they knew that we would be either in one of the immediate neighbours houses/yards/paddocks. Of course we lived in a different time when everyone watched out for everyone else, neighbours knew one another, and help was always on hand. Not so different to where these families live, but without the secrets. I guess there were secrets, things our parents and the neighbours talked of in hushed voices, conversations that stopped when we entered a room, but nothing that ever worried us. Unlike these children.
Envy is a dangerous emotion. That, and a sense of entitlement. I remember having spats with my friends, usually a dispute over a toy (or later a boy), something that was all over and done with, forgotten in no time at all. But under the friendly communal spirit of these gardens, lurks something deeper and darker. Envy, resentment, secrets and teenage hormones combine to form a dangerous mix, and provide us with a wonderful mystery written in Lisa Jewell’s easy and freeflowing style.
🤩🤩🤩🤩 enthusiastic stars
THE AUTHOR: Lisa was born in London in 1968. Her mother was a secretary and her father was a textile agent and she was brought up in the northernmost reaches of London with her two younger sisters. She was educated at a Catholic girls’ Grammar school in Finchley. After leaving school at sixteen she spent two years at Barnet College doing an arts foundation course and then two years at Epsom School of Art & Design studying Fashion Illustration and Communication.
She worked for the fashion chain Warehouse for three years as a PR assistant and then for Thomas Pink, the Jermyn Street shirt company for four years as a receptionist and PA. She started her first novel, Ralph’s Party, for a bet in 1996. She finished it in 1997 and it was published by Penguin books in May 1998. It went on to become the best-selling debut novel of that year.
She has since written a further nine novels, as is currently at work on her eleventh.
She now lives in an innermost part of north London with her husband Jascha, an IT consultant, her daughters, Amelie and Evie and her silver tabbies, Jack and Milly.
DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The Girls (previously titled The Girls in the garden) by Lisa Jewell, narrated by Colleen Prendergast and the author’s daughter Amelie Jewell, published by Audible Audio, via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own opinions.
For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my Goodreads,com profile page, or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com
This and other reviews are also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1325664890