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
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 18 months ago by wrenwrites
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful, heartbreaking, breathtaking page turner.,
I'm not sure I can actually do this book justice. It's unlike anything else Jewell has written and that is most definitely not a bad thing. I love Lisa's books, I have done since I first moved to England. But this is so different, so powerful and haunting.
The characters leap from the page and plant themselves firmly in your mind. Betty is adorable and feisty and clever, I think we'd have been friends! John melted my heart and made me swoon, just a little bit (ok, a lot!). Dom made me cringe, as did Amy. I remember the 90′s fondly, I was 18 in 1995 and remember being completely dumbstruck by my first mobile phone!
When we switch to 1920, the transition is so easy, so seamless. Here we meet the young Arlette and her friends. This other world is opened up and I loved every second of it. The glamour, the scandal, the decadence, the hardships, the thrills of this whole new world! I felt like i was right there. Arlette's heartaches became my heartaches. I cried for her and wanted to make it all ok. I really, really cared about this girl who was living in an adult world and doing her best to find her way.
The twists and turns are so gripping, the stories and lives are so tightly woven together. New world and old world, tied together in knots and then the threads so delicately untangled to reveal truths and destinies far beyond what I expected.
If you haven't read this yet, I urge you to.
A beautiful, heartbreaking, breathtaking page turner. 5/5
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't recommend this enough,
Every now and again a book makes me miss my bus stop on the way to work. That's this book. So poignantly sad in places and brilliantly entertaining too, it'll make you wish you'd met the characters, too.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A romantic read,
This book started and ended well, but the bit in the middle seemed very drawn out beyond what was necessary. I Liked the idea of the story but felt the plot of the rock star a bit clichéd and the plot about Godfrey and Arlette crashed a little. Having said all that it was an easy read.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A new departure for Lisa Jewell,
In the early 80s young Betty Dean moves to Guernsey where her stepfather's mother Arlette is growing frail and needs care. Betty (a strangely old-fashioned name) soon settles in and becomes good friends with Arlette, who claims never to have lived outside the island. Betty ends up caring for Arlette after a stroke. When the old woman dies ten years later, the family is surprised to learn that her residuary legatee is a woman none of them has heard of: Clara Pickle, of London. Betty, anxious to see the bright lights of London, volunteers to go in search of Clara. Renting a studio flat in Soho that she can't afford, the only job she can get is in a burger bar; but she befriends Dom, a famous pop singer who has just moved into the street following the spectacular collapse of his marriage, and John, the uncommunicative stall holder in the market outside. Then the novel slips back in time to 1919 and we find Arlette herself arriving in London to stay with a friend of her mother's in Kensington. She gets a job in Liberty's and meets an artist named Gideon who is desperate to paint her, plunging herself into a Bohemian world in Chelsea.
I have loved Jewell's novels since she erupted on the scene with Ralph's Party in 1999. She has the knack of creating characters the reader can care about, and she has always been kind to them, allowing them, whatever vicissitudes they encounter on the way, to end their stories on a happy note.
This novel is a departure for her. Instead of a tale set solely in contemporary London, we have the story of Arlette woven into it, making her way in the new world arising from the ruins of WW1. I sense that Jewell is more at home with Betty in London in the 90s than in the 20s, where the detail doesn't always convince, but the stories gradually converge as Betty's detective work into the past meets up with Arlette's thread. Arlette is one Jewell heroine who receives less kindness than usual: her story is so sad that it may qualify as a tragedy.
5.0 out of 5 stars She'd previously only lived in Guernsey and London was a fantastic mix of music,
Before I Met You is told in two different eras - in the 1920s and the 1990s. In the 1920s, 21 year old Arlette comes to stay with family friends in London. She'd previously only lived in Guernsey and London was a fantastic mix of music, parties and socialising for Arlette, who lapped it all up.
In the 1990s, 21 year old Betty has been caring for her frail and elderly step-grandmother for several years. When she dies, Betty and her mother and stepfather are surprised to find someone named in her will - someone none of them have heard of before. Betty immediately makes it her mission to travel to London and to find out who this person is and what the connection was to her grandmother, Arlette.
The story is told in alternate chapters, one from the past and one from the present. Sometimes this annoys me in books, because I find I get really involved with one storyline then get thrown into another. It wasn't this way in this book - I felt like I found out just enough each time and I was equally interested in both parts of the story. I liked both of the main characters - I found them believable and genuine. I was desperate for Betty to find out the truth about her grandma - as well as desperate to find out myself! I loved that there were little clues and info slowly introduced throughout the book and you could build a picture of Arlette and her life as you read - I prefer this to books that keep all the secrets/reveals until right at the end!
The story had a few twists and turns that I didn't expect, and although the ending wasn't what I'd been guessing, I enjoyed the book. It was definitely my kind of story, and I've already purchased a new book by Lisa Jewell to get stuck into next.
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting, engaging, evocative,
Lisa Jewell is an author that I was a huge fan of in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Her books were always entertaining, pacey reads and not remotely taxing-perfect escapism. The amount of reading I did took a huge dip during the mid 2000s-I was too busy getting married, having a social life and having a baby. I was aware that Lisa Jewell was still writing, but for some reason never got around to reading the books I had missed out on. Then last year she released Before I Met You. Everyone seemed to be reading it and talking about it. The Daily Mail said it was 'fabulous', Marie Claire described it as 'heartbreakingly good'.
The story spans two very different eras, the glamorous roaring 1920s and the grungy, Britpop addled 1990s. Following the great war Arlette has moved to London from Guernsey to experience all life has to offer. She works in fashionable, respectable Liberty by day and by night she socialises in glitzy jazz clubs with the exotic and artistic London set. As well as the charismatic Arlette, readers are introduced to other brilliantly constructed characters such as artist Gideon, inspired by Arlette's outstanding beauty and clarinetist Godfrey, an attractive West Indian touring with the Southern Syncopated Orchestra. In the 1990s, Arlette's granddaughter Betty also finds herself in London. Amid the wild Soho lifestyle she is searching for the mysterious Clara Pickle to inform her of an inheritance she is due. Romantic and witty, Before I Met You is a fabulous read that will draw you in, a book that is best devoured in as few sittings as possible.
I absolutely adored it. As a fan of all things vintage, Arlette's lifestyle was both appealing and enchanting, without being completely unbelievable. I could also relate to Betty's money worries and struggle to find employment, as I am sure many others reading within the current recession will be able to. The plot was engaging and twisting, quick-paced and well executed.
The key to Jewell's success is in her writing style-accessible, easy to read and yet jammed full of evocative, lush descriptions of people, places and fashions. I read an edition that I chose at the library, but will be buying a copy to keep as I loved it so much. A beautiful novel with all the heart and emotion of those by other popular writers such as Jojo Moyes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A heart touching tale...,
Before I Met You by Lisa Jewell was for me a wonderful read and once I started I could not stop until I reached the end, I wanted to know what would become of Elizabeth lovingly known as Betty or what was the story behind the very beautiful in her youth Arlette
This is the story of two women from separate generations who both go to London to seek a life of excitement away from their home in Guernsey. Elizabeth known as Betty loves Arlette and looks after her when she tragically has a stroke, though she is not related to Arlette Betty loves her like she is as she sees past the hardness and tightness Arlette shows to her family. After Arlette dies an unknown name appears on the will and Betty decides she is the one who is going to search out this stranger namely Clara Pickle as the search for Arlette's past first of all will let Betty leave the quiet life she has lived in Guernsey but she wants to be able to carry out Arlette's last wishes to the exact letter even though it would have left Betty better off financially if she ignored this new name in the will.
As the author takes us into the 1920's to have a vision into Arlette's life, we will also have a look at Betty's new life in London both seeking a life of excitement and happiness but as we read the book we will soon see how both women see London might have all the excitement but maybe not the life they truly expected to be leading. Though both women were not related they cared for each other and that love reached over the years, Betty was determined for Arlette's wishes to be carried out as her love and respect for this old woman with the red satin shoes crossed the barriers. This is one of those books which I loved mainly for the excellent writing which the author enriched with the very vivid and sometimes amusing characters. I loved both characters in equal measure mainly because of the author keeping the constant pace engaging showing us readers how life changed so much for both girls in such a short period of time but also how life was so different for each of the girls in the separate eras but yet both girls in a way were seeking the same exciting time though in different ways.
I highly recommend Before I Met You by Lisa Jewell as a brilliant read as it showed me as a reader to always remember when I see an old person they had a life before I met them that happiness and love was not invented just by the youth of today!
5.0 out of 5 stars Mysterious and emotional,
Firstly I'd like to thank the publishers for sending me this book to read and give an honest review. I love a good mystery so the blurb really intrigued me and even at that point I was trying to come up with ideas as to what the big secret was!
The first thing I learned from the book was that Arlette (the elderly Arlette, her personal story hadn't started yet) had broken her hip and so her son, his girlfriend and her young daughter Elizabeth were going to stay at her house to look after her. It was clear that Elizabeth wasn't too happy about it until a touching moment between her and Arlette changed all that for the better. It was at this moment that Arlette called Elizabeth `Betty' and it stuck - she was Betty throughout the rest of the book. Their bond grew as Betty grew up, especially after Arlette suffered a stroke and became bed bound. I was amazed that a young woman would stay in the house just to take care of an elderly lady, this was such an admirable thing to do and I thought very highly of Betty after that.
Betty clearly loved Arlette and I really enjoyed their interactions so I felt sad when I learned that Arlette had passed away. It was at the reading of her Last Will & Testament that the mystery began - an unknown beneficiary from London confused Arlette's family and Betty decided that she would head there in an attempt to find this person. Betty had always dreamed of going to Soho, London after visiting with her mother when she was young so it was an exciting opportunity for her and one that she grasped with both hands. I had a couple of theories as to who the mystery beneficiary was but ended up being completely wrong!
As Betty settled into her new life (not without some difficulties I might add) she began to uncover secrets that shocked her and showed a completely different side to her step-grandmother. Alongside Betty's story was Arlette's story from the 1920s, I really enjoyed this part because she was such a fascinating character! There were times when history seemed to be repeating itself and this concerned me and made me smile all at the same time, I had become really quite fond of Betty and wanted her to make the right choices - in life and in love. Both stories had me hooked and I enjoyed fitting together all the pieces of the mystery, I couldn't rest until I had completed the puzzle and by this point I felt rather emotional.
The writing was captivating, creating an intriguing atmosphere and touching on subjects that pulled at my heartstrings.
This was a wonderful read filled with romance, secrets and mystery - expect to feel a range of emotions!
4.0 out of 5 stars Different from her usual books but a great read,
I tend to get around to Lisa Jewell's books a lot later than they are published and I make the same mistake every single time (doh!). I pick up the book, devour it and fall in love with her latest novel. I then tell myself I'm an idiot for not reading it sooner and then by the time the next one comes around I do it all over again. With this book released in 2012, here I am again making the same mistake. With Jewell's latest book it feels almost like she has taken a departure from her usual topics and delved into something a little bit different. In the beginning of this book we meet Betty Dean as a young girl who has moved to Guernsey to live with her Grandmother. When her grandmother dies and leaves something in her will to a mysterious woman named Clara Pickle, Betty is determined to find the woman.
On a mission to find Clara Pickle Betty arrives in grungy, 1990s Soho, ready for anything. This is the first element of the book and the second element involves Betty's Grandmother Arlette growing up in 1920's London. I really liked Betty's character and adored the fact that she was seeing London through a young girls eye's in the nineties (my age is showing somewhat there). Although I really liked Betty I was surprised to learn that I actually liked Arlette's story just as much. I had stupidly made the assumption that London in the 1920's would be a little boring and predictable, how wrong was I?
I was quickly drawn into both women's lives and the nice thing about this book is that the layers are revealed gradually. The more we learn about Arlette, the more we see Betty discover about the mysterious Clara Pickle. I didn't particularly like the fact that a rock star happened to live opposite Betty when she moves to London, but the story was driven the right way in my opinion. Any other outcome for that particular storyline may well have ruined the book for me. Arlette and her friends from that era were extraordinary and I really could picture their hedonistic and glitzy lifestyle in the twenties. Although this was a slight move from Jewell's usual stuff I loved it and thought the story was heartfelt and very interesting. I was certainly hooked and found that the slight element of mystery surrounding Arlette made it that little bit more intriguing.
I managed to read the last quarter in a couple of hours and found myself once again berating myself for leaving it so long to read this book. I wouldn't say it was my favourite Lisa Jewell book but it made a refreshing change to read something a little different and I would certainly recommend it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful,
Betty Dean doesn't know what to expect when she moves to Guernsey with her mother and step-father to care for her step-grandmother. When she meets the old lady she is unsure of her, but over the years the two become very close and eventually Betty becomes full time carer for her Grandmother.
When the grandmother passes away, Betty is named in the will, but has the task of finding another beneficiary to the will, one Clara Pickle. The search for Clara brings Betty back to Soho, England. Who is this mysterious Clara and what is her connection with Betty's grandmother Arlette, who has never visited London?
Betty arrives in Soho ready to begin a new life after spending years caring for Arlette and with very few clues, sets about finding a job, accommodation and Clara Pickles.
I got so caught up in both Betty and Arlette's stories that ran parallel through the novel. The 1920's is one of my favourite eras to read about and the author captured the period wonderfully. I enjoyed the mystery that Betty had to solve. I cried at the end of Betty's story and at the end of Arlette's story for different reasons.
With a beautiful cast and two very emotional and moving storylines, Lisa Jewell has written a gem here.
I have read other novels by Lisa Jewell that are usually more modern and lighter reads but still very enjoyable. This one has to be my favourite Lisa Jewell to date.
A perfect 10 for me! I loved it!
Thank you to the publisher for sending me a review copy. This did not influence my review in any way.
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