Sunday, 8 September 2013

Review - Before I Met You by Lisa Jewell

What a completely and utterly incredible and adorable book!

In the 80s Elizabeth Dean travels to Guernsey to meet Arlette, her step-grandmother who needs looking after.  When they meet they become great friends. Elizabeth becomes Betty and through a mutual admiration it is decided that Betty should stay on to care for Arlette into her old age. 

The book then reverts back to the 1920s when Arlette travels to England to live with her mother's friend and becomes a socialite mixed up in a whirl of parties, glamour and jazz music. Deep love and happiness, then tragedy and sorrow sees Arlette flee back to Guernsey.

In the 90s, Arlette sadly passes away and in her will leaves some of her inheritance to a mystery lady called Clara Pickle, a lady that no-one in the family has ever heard of and Betty finds a book with an inscription in the front of it to Clara.  Betty feels that Arlette wanted her to solve the puzzle and find this mystery woman who was so clearly very important, so she sets of on an adventure to London and starts to uncover the secrets of her grandmother's life while building a new life for herself. 

WOW! I was gripped from the first page. I become very quickly totally and completely immersed in the two time-zones and the two lives of Betty and Arlette.  I was mesmerised by the life of Arlette in London in the 20s and also absolutely swept up in Betty's life in the 90s.  It was so refreshing to read about a time without mobile phones and Google, when research meant trawling through a library full of Encyclopedia Britannia (I remember it well!).

As the plot unfolded and parts of the mystery solved, I found myself holding my breath in anticipation to see what would be revealed next. I felt so involved with it, it was as if it were my own family's story. I was so engrossed that I could not possibly wait to find out where the plot went next. There were lots of twists and turns along the way, along with lots of love, heartbreak, happiness and sorrow. 

Both Betty and Arlette were amazing characters, I loved them both dearly.  I felt heartbroken when they did, excited when they did and lived every second of the book as each of them. Totally rivetting, this book is one I don't think I'll ever forget.   

It was lovely to read about Lisa and her reading journey at the end of the book too.   Extremely encouraging for anyone who might be thinking about writing a book.  Lisa Jewell is a complete inspiration to me personally; a completely awesome and amazingly talented author.  

Lisa Jewell was born and raised in north London, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She is the bestselling author of a number of brilliant novels.    You can find out more about Lisa at her website 

You can follow her on Twitter too.  

You can buy this book on Amazon UK by clicking here.  

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