Customer Reviews


221 Reviews
5 star:
 (151)
4 star:
 (51)
3 star:
 (13)
2 star:
 (4)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Surprisingly Enjoyable Read
As a first time reader of Lisa Jewell, I was a little unsure about what to expect when I received this book as a gift; however, I was very pleasantly surprised with this lovely story, set in the 1920s and the 1990s, which I enjoyed from start to finish.

In the 1990s Elizabeth (Betty) comes to London from her home in Guernsey where she has spent the last few...
Published on 23 July 2012 by Susie B

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unsure what all the fuss is about
This is a perfectly fine book but no means original, extraordinary or particularly involving. The only characters I cared about all have horrible ends and the main character, Betty I found one dimensional and dull. Both of the women are repeatedly told how beautiful and amazing they are but there seems to be no textual evidence of this amazingness. Things happen to them...
Published 21 months ago by wrenwrites


‹ Previous | 1 223 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Surprisingly Enjoyable Read, 23 July 2012
By 
Susie B - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Before I Met You (Paperback)
As a first time reader of Lisa Jewell, I was a little unsure about what to expect when I received this book as a gift; however, I was very pleasantly surprised with this lovely story, set in the 1920s and the 1990s, which I enjoyed from start to finish.

In the 1990s Elizabeth (Betty) comes to London from her home in Guernsey where she has spent the last few years caring for her step-father's mother, the elderly but glamorous Arlette, with her lacy stockings, her red silk shoes and her well-hidden secrets. After Arlette's death, Betty is puzzled when she discovers that Arlette has left a large sum of money in her will to the deliciously named Clara Tatiana Pickles, of whom no-one in the family seems to know anything about. Betty, who discovers that Clara's last known address was in Soho, sets off from Guernsey and arrives in London, takes a studio flat right in the heart of Soho and begins searching for the elusive Ms Pickles. Whilst searching, Betty meets a variety of interesting people including the tall, dark and gloweringly handsome market trader, John, and the infamous Dom Jones, lead singer of the band 'Wall', both of whom are attracted to the lovely Betty. As Betty says to herself as she looks around her new studio flat: "Real life has finally begun."

In the 1920s we learn about Arlette's life as a young woman - of how she left her family on Guernsey and moved to London, how she got a job in Liberty's, became the muse of a rising artist, became intimately involved with a man who would not have been considered suitable by her family, and became part of the bohemian group of people known as the 'Bright Young Things' with their parties, jazz clubs and drinking dens. But, ultimately, do we learn who Clara Pickles is, and why she was so important to Arlette?

Lisa Jewell sets her scenes beautifully and writes descriptively well of the fashions and music of the times, and she has created some wonderful characters for her novel, particularly Betty who is a lovely creation: pretty, bright, slightly kooky and always the optimist - and, although I enjoyed reading about Arlette and her interesting life, I was always keen to get back to the sections about Betty to see how her life was progressing in 1990s London. This is not a novel of great literary weight - and it's not meant to be one - but it is a lovely summer read to entertain you while you relax by the pool, laze in the garden or curl up on the sofa.

4 Stars.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


81 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exciting new direction for one of my favourite authors, 25 Jun. 2012
By 
Denise4891 (Cheshire) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Before I Met You (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you look at my other reviews you'll see that I'm not a great reader of `chick-lit' (hate that term but can't think of a better one), but I've always had a real soft spot for Lisa Jewell. She tends to get lumped in with the chick-lit writers, but I think there's much more substance to her novels compared to some of that genre, and hopefully the new direction she's taken with her latest book will win her a whole new group of fans.

It's the mid-1990s and Betty Dean is spreading her wings following the death of her beloved step-grandmother, Arlette. She leaves Guernsey on a mission to find a mysterious woman who features in her grandmother's will, the gloriously named Clara Pickle. All she has to go on is an ancient last known address and a copy of Polyanna which Arlette had inscribed with the dedication "To Little Miss Pickle".

Betty is adorable - bright, resourceful and funny, she manages to stay just the right side of quirky without becoming irritating. She arrives in Soho at an exciting time and those of us of a certain age will have fun spotting all the 90s references - Britpop and Nirvana, Primrose Hill and the Groucho Club etc. Betty's story is interspersed with flashbacks to Bohemian 1920s London, with its jazz clubs, Bright Young Things and artists painting in garrets (well a cottage in Gideon`s case). Arlette is pretty green when she arrives from Guernsey to stay with a friend of her mother`s. She soon immerses herself into the wild and exotic Soho scene but, as Betty's search reveals, heartbreak and tragedy are never far away.

Jewell usually writes about real people in real situations, set in a period (the nineties and noughties) that I can identify with and look back on with affection. I think I'm right in saying that this is her first `historical` dual-timeframe novel and, thanks to Betty's investigations, the two threads blend seamlessly together. Having said that I could've happily read a whole book featuring either storyline (the sign of a good dual-timeframe story). So, thankfully this change of style for one my favourite authors has been a resounding success as far as I'm concerned - I loved it and am really looking forward to seeing which direction her next novel takes us in.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A touching and memorable book, 22 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Before I Met You (Paperback)
For me, curling up with a Lisa Jewell novel is like curling up with a coffee in front of a warm fire - comforting, cosy with the guarantee that it will warm the cockles of my heart. This book did not disappoint. Well-written, vivid and at once warm and funny and poignant and moving. It's a more mature read than some of Lisa's earlier novels - even with a relatively young heroine, it is less `chicklit' in feel and deals with some serious rather than frivolous themes.

I especially enjoyed the dual points of view explored in the book - of Arlette, a young woman in 1920s London, and her step-granddaughter Betty, in 1990s London. There are wonderful parallels and also juxtaposition of the women's experiences that made for a compelling and powerful read. The characters are multi-faceted and realistic and likeable, and I was rather sad by the end of the book that their story had come to an end.

For me, the best part of this book is the sense of place that the author creates. I love the island of Guernsey, so I enjoyed the descriptions of that setting, but it is London that really comes alive on the pages. Having read this book soon after finishing The Paris Wife, which depicts 1920s Paris, I found myself drawing parallels and enjoying the glimpse of life in bohemian London during that era. I think the author does a marvellous job of capturing the heart of London - Soho - without over-romanticising it. Take the following extract:

All she knew was that the day was dying and the night was giving birth to itself, and there was something electric, something magnetic pulling her down Carnaby Street, past self-consciously crazy boutiques, past grimy pubs, through the throngs of tourists and teenage girls just like her, girls from somewhere else with overblown ideas of themselves, girls having a special treat with dowdy mothers and bored father, a day in town with an early lunch at Garfunkel's, overfilled bowls from the salad bar, tickets for a West End show tucked safely in Mum's bum-bag. It wasn't real. Even to Betty's immature, small-town eyes she could see through the fakery and the stage setting. There was something both murky and beguiling beyond this plastic street of Union Jacks and Beatles posters, something grimy and flittering.

By the end of the book, I found myself wanting to visit London and the locations that feature in the story, so alive did the characters feel to me.
Of course, at the heart of the story is romance - that of Arlette and of Betty - and indeed all sorts of relationship are explored in the novel. The result is a touching and memorable book that I recommend to any reader who enjoys romance.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book, 12 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Before I Met You (Kindle Edition)
I read this because I saw it advertised on the tube and was attracted by the setting in London. Actually it vastly exceeded my expectations. I liked the two parallel stories of step grandmother/granddaughter. It is well written and, though the story is not particularly original, there are sufficient twists in the plot to keep you gripped to the end. It would be particularly good for holiday reading.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Infused with humour yet heartbreaking, 11 July 2012
By 
I Readalot (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Before I Met You (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I haven't read any of Lisa Jewell's novels before but the storyline of this one intrigued me and I almost finished it in one sitting. Guernsey is certainly making its mark in fiction nowadays although in this case very little of the novel is actually set there. It is more about the Guernsey that the young women take with them. I am sure that anyone who has moved from the Channel Islands or even from a small village into a big city themselves will be able to identify with the experiences of Arlette and Betty.

Fairy Tales provide the basis for a lot of modern fiction, for `Before I Met You' `Dick Whittington' fits quite well, at least for Arlette's story. Admittedly she isn't impoverished financially and doesn't go to find her fortune but her insular world has left her impoverished in other ways, she knows nothing about the wider world and her circle of acquaintances has been small, she goes to the big city in search of excitement and real life. Betty's story has more in common with the classic quest as she goes in search of Clara Pickles who no one in the family has ever heard of before, why has Arlette left her a bequest in her Will? As far as the family are concerned Arlette had never left Guernsey.

The 2 stories run in parallel in many respects, chapter 7, set in 1995 ends with the words `Her real life had finally begun and chapter 11, set in 1919 ends with the words `Finally her life had begun'. Music links the 2, Arlette's story is set at the start of the Jazz era and Betty's at a time when Britpop ruled the world and the first person she speaks to in Soho runs a record stall in the market, there are many more parallels and connections for the reader to discover.

`Before I Met You' is at heart a good story well told. It has believable characters that I cared about; it is infused with humour yet is also heartbreaking. Soho becomes a character in its own right as we switch between the Bohemian 1920's to the grungy 1990's, where else could this story have taken place? The dual story structure kept me reading as I wanted to know what happened to the different characters, yes I did have a very good idea of how it would end but it was how Arlette and Betty got there that is important. How does Betty discover what we, the readers, already know and how will it affect the wider family? It is apparent that Arlette always intended for Betty to go on this quest and she leaves clues to help her along the way, who would have thought that a vintage fur coat would prove to be so important?

The novel also brings into question how well we actually know the people closest to us. Maybe some readers will start to wonder about their grandparents, could they have a past they know nothing about?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another wonderful read from dependable Lisa Jewell, 28 Jun. 2012
By 
sam155 (Wales) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Before I Met You (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I love Lisa Jewell's books and always go out of my way to buy any new releases she has brought out.

This was no exception, and as usual, I was immediately drawn in by the likeable characters and warm tone.

Set in Guernsey and London, the likeable Betty shows a wonderful yet non self pitying compassion toward an old lady who she regards as her grandmother. It's not giving too much away that the 94 year old dies, and a surprising mystery takes place when the will is read.

I won't fill this review with spoilers, but as usual, I was very involved with the main character Betty, and again as usual with Jewell's beautifully written novels, it was hard to believe Betty was a fictional character- so alive was she on the page. The parallel story of Arlette, Betty's grandmother, pulled at my heartstrings and left me in tears at several points. Jewell showed a talent here for being able to write in different periods and the scenes set in the 1920s rang with truth and authenticity.

Lisa Jewell is a cut above chick lit: yes she can do the boy meets girl story (Vince and Joy is a wonderful example), but she can also do friendships, parenthood, families and humour. Her writing is contemporary (she name checks eBay and Facebook in her novels), and her characters likeable (you'd want to be friends with them). At the same time, she can do good conflict without anyone being purely black and white.

I would recommend this book to anyone and I am thoroughly looking forward to a re-read in a few months time. In fact, I think this is her best yet. I am still thinking about it many days after I finished reading.

Not chick lit, just a beautifully crafted addictive story, rather beautiful in places.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unsure what all the fuss is about, 20 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Before I Met You (Paperback)
This is a perfectly fine book but no means original, extraordinary or particularly involving. The only characters I cared about all have horrible ends and the main character, Betty I found one dimensional and dull. Both of the women are repeatedly told how beautiful and amazing they are but there seems to be no textual evidence of this amazingness. Things happen to them because of how beautiful they are and there are no great surprises to the twists or reveals.
If you are looking for well written and thought provoking literature I suggest 'Me before you' by Jojo Moyes or anything written by Elizabeth Berg and Anita Shreve.
I am genuinely flummoxed at these remarkabale reviews for such an unremarkable story.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Step Back In Time, 9 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Before I Met You (Paperback)
I've been a big fan of Lisa Jewell's novels for many years and and over that time Lisa has progressed from writing about new, possibly unrequited love and has began to include family life and established relationships in her work. I've always preferred the earlier, "chick lit" novels (such is the type of girl I am) and I felt that her later books were missing some of that Jewell magic that I had grown to know and love.

I'm pleased to say the magic has most definitely returned with Before I Met You.

In 1983, eleven year old Elizabeth and her family leave Surrey and head off to Guernsey after receiving news that her Stepfather's Mother, Arlette has had a serious fall and requires someone to live with and take care of her.

Jump to 1995, now known as Betty, she is Arlette's full time carer. Her friends have left the island for University and to follow their dreams whilst Betty spends her time in Arlette's big old Guernsey house, dreaming of the bright lights of London, of living in Soho and moving forward with her life.

When Arlette dies, she leaves Betty £1,000 to start her journey along with a mystery to solve. In Arlette's will is a mysterious beneficiary, who's last known address is in London. Betty immediately offers to be the one to go and find this mystery lady and sets off to follow her dreams, armed with just two clues - a children's book featuring a dedication to the beneficiary and the redundant address.

As Betty starts to discover the secrets of her Grandmother's past, we are provided with Arlette's similar story of her arrival in London way back in 1920. As Betty finds herself being seduced by a famous music star who lives nearby, we learn of Arlette's love affair with a famous Jazz musician. Two women of different eras, who look similar and have reflecting lives but are not actually related.

I enjoyed reading about both ladies equally, but for very different reasons. Betty, a wide eyed 22 year old discovering herself for the first time reminded me of the similar dreams I had at her age. She definitely did a better job of following them. I loved reading about Soho in the mid 90′s, the fashion, the hair dye disasters, the poor housing, of the jobs she took to make ends meet and of the new friends she made and potential love interests she encountered.

With Arlette's story, it was wonderful to discover what London was like in the 1920′s, the jazz clubs of Bohemian London, the glamour and the people - artists, musicians and young women making their way into independence for the first time, following the war. Arlette's and Betty's experiences, despite mirroring each other in some ways were so different in other ways, due to the culture and era in which they were placed.

I loved how as the reader, the puzzle of Arlette and the mystery beneficiary was pieced together for us as Betty herself unravelled it. We are treat to small pieces of information both through Betty's conversations with various people she tracks down throughout present day London, as well as through the stories we are told of Arlette's time spent in London 85 years previously.

This is a wonderfully written, well researched novel. The collection of characters in both eras is interesting and diverse and the shift from 1920′s to 1990′s London throughout blends perfectly, with the earlier era feeding information to the later as Betty attempts to solve the mystery. The vision of London in both decades is clearly described and the stories of both leading ladies are cleverly intertwined whilst still maintaining the major differences between the times.

My Rating 5/5 - Lisa Jewell's writing has matured and she has left the chick lit genre behind. Whilst I will miss her classic, witty chick lit offerings, Before I Met You was a pleasure to read and my excitement for her future novels remains intact.

http://mebookshelfandi.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/review-before-i-met-you/
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, charming and beautifully written xxx, 12 Aug. 2012
By 
Megan ReadingInTheSunshine (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Before I Met You (Paperback)
I had never read a book by Lisa Jewell before, and after reading Before I Met You, I asked myself "Where have I been? How did I not know about this author?!" Lisa Jewel has such a talent for writing, her words are put together beautifully creating a book that is very hard to put down!

This book has two story lines, one set in the 1920′s and the other set a bit later on in the 1990′s, and Lisa effortlessly weaves the two stories together to create a wonderful tale. We meet Arlette, Betty's grandmother, in the 1920′s, starting a new life after the war and she takes us on an exciting journey as she explores London, meeting a mix of vibrant, individual characters, but as we learn, Arlette soon meets tragedy in her life.

Fast forward to the 90′s, and Betty is similarly exploring her life in the busy Soho part of London, on a mission to find the beneficiary in her grandmothers will. As the mystery uncovers, she is taken on a journey of Arlette's fascinating life, uncovering many secrets and discovering more about her grandmother.

Arlette and Betty are what I can only describe as beautiful characters. I loved their personalities, I really felt as though I knew them personally. In particular I was fascinated by Arlette's stories and I loved following her on her journey through the book.

This is a truly enthralling story of love, loss, determination and self-discovery. It gripped me right from the beginning, I became very emotionally involved, couldn't put it down, and I must say, the story touched my heart.

This is an intriguing, charming book that has been beautifully written. I'm very much looking forward to reading more of Lisa Jewell's novels.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dual time writing at its best..., 23 July 2012
By 
Welsh Annie (Wetherby) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Before I Met You (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I enjoy well written chick lit, but I've always avoided Lisa Jewell - I have no idea why, but I always thought she was at the "fluffy" end of the spectrum. This book is so good it really moves her out of the chick lit camp for me, it was a wonderful and really different read. If I say it reminded me of the best of JoJo Moyes, I mean it as a real compliment. Betty's 90s story - part love story, part investigation of the past - is interspersed with the story of Arlette and her life amid the bohemian set in the 1920s. The transitions are effortless, and both timeframes have a depth of detail that is absolutely captivating. Both Betty and Arlette are wonderfully drawn characters, and both stories - with their overlaps - are totally engrossing. It's a tribute to Lisa Jewell's writing that I never felt any wrench moving from one story to the other - either thread would have kept me hooked. I understand this dual-time narrative is a bit of a departure for the author, but I do regret not discovering her writing earlier - back catalogue, here I come!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 223 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Before I Met You
Before I Met You by Lisa Jewell (Paperback - 9 May 2013)
£5.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews