Tuesday, 7 March 2017
#IFoundYou by #LisaJewell #Review
'How long have you been sitting out here?'
'I got here yesterday.'
'Where did you come from?'
'I have no idea.'
East Yorkshire: Single mum Alice Lake finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement she invites him in to her home.
Surrey: Twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.
There is one word which really captures my feelings about this book: satisfying. I know that doesn't sound effusive enough, doesn't sound as knock-your-socks-off or blow-me-away as some other adjectives but it should!
This book is deliciously satisfying. It is a curl-up-in-bed-and-read-it-until-midnight-satisfying; it is read-it-on-a-rainy-Sunday-and-lose-yourself-in-it-satisfying. It is like meeting-an-old-friend-and-listening-to-them-talk-for-hours-satisfying. It is picking up a book by an author you've dipped in and out of for years and still find their books completely hit the spot satisfying. Lisa Jewell is an author that you can completely depend on to deliver a story with characters, plot lines, issues, ideas and excitement in a way which is extremely satisfying.
Although sometimes labelled as a 'light, chick-lit" read, Jewell actually delivers more than that in "I Found You". Her recent titles are more psychological thriller in style; they retain all the best features of her previous novels, particularly their readability and accessibility, but now add in a satisfying dose of darkness, intrigue, suspense and tension.
"Alice sits in her tiny room at the top of her tiny house. From here she runs her business. She makes art from old maps, which she sells on the Internet for silly money. Silly money for a piece of art made from old maps, perhaps, but not silly money for a single mother."
Jewell's description is simple yet conveys much more and sets up the scene effectively with a character we immediately have sympathy for but who also carries an air of vulnerability.
I liked the use of maps. People buy the artwork made with maps to show loved ones how they belong to each other, where they found each other and rooting them firmly in specific places. Alice spends her days collecting old maps, searching out locations and journeys in a way that masks her emotional journey and what she is unwittingly seeking. And then we meet "Frank", a man who is completely lost. "Frank" has no memory, no home, no roots, nowhere to ground himself and no idea where and how he belongs. It's an intriguing premise and one which Jewell develops in to a fascinating story full of twists, turns, revelations and developments which will keep you gripped and turning the pages until the very last satisfying line.
Alice is an extremely likeable character. She is open, trusting, giving and kind. I did worry for her when she let "Frank" into her house so readily, but Jewell manages to make this convincing by allowing Alice to doubt herself and there are several moments where she questions her decision.
There is a dual narrative in the story and once we are embedded in Alice and Frank's story we meet Lily whose husband doesn't come home from work one night. Lily is newly married and it is clear her husband is completely head over heels in love with her so there is no reason why he wouldn't come home. The police arrive to help investigate his disappearance but this only confuses things further when they announce that actually, he never existed:
"There is no Carl John Robert Monroe."
Lily is now lost. In a strange country, with no family, few friends and no sense of who her husband was and where he might be. She needs to find him. She needs to find the truth.
Throughout the novel I was wondering how the threads would become woven together and how Jewell would link up the characters, the revelations, the events. This is masterful story telling and the resolution is rewarding, believable and very pleasing - yes, satisfying too!
There is a good range of characters - not too many to keep track off (particularly when there are characters who have lost their identity or created new ones!) but plenty enough to make it a more complex tale with some layers and depth to it. The pace is great and with the dual narratives and the mix of overlapping story lines the reader can not help but read on and watch how Jewell brings everything together in a dramatic conclusion.
This is simply a very good novel. It is what we have come to expect from Lisa Jewell and why we trust her as a storyteller. This is a page turner. This is a good drama. It is a story about families, relationships, revenge, justice and love. It will no doubt fly off the shelves and do very well. I enjoyed it. I found it incredibly satisfying (have I mentioned that?) and was delighted that I chose to read it rather than watch telly this weekend as to me, it read as well as any recent TV drama and had all the same ingredients.
Go on, indulge yourself. Find time for it.
I Found You is released on 9th March 2017.
You can follow me for more reviews and recommendations on Twitter @katherinesunde3 (bibliomaniacuk)