Having grown up on the quiet island of Guernsey, Betty Dean can’t wait to start her new life in London. On a mission to find Clara Pickle – the mysterious beneficiary in her grandmother’s will – she arrives in grungy, 1990s Soho, ready for whatever life has to throw at her. Or so she thinks…
In 1920s bohemian London, Arlette – Betty’s grandmother – is starting her new life in a time of post-war change. Beautiful and charismatic, Arlette is soon drawn into the hedonistic world of the Bright Young People. But less than two years later, tragedy strikes and she flees back to Guernsey for the rest of her life.
As Betty searches for Clara, she is taken on a journey through Arlette’s extraordinary time in London, uncovering a tale of love, loss and heartbreak. Will the secrets of Arlette’s past help Betty on her path to happiness?
I was given this book to review by Lisa Jewell’s publisher, having reviewed ‘The Truth About Melody Browne’ and I have to say that it is a brilliant, unputdownable read.
The story is set both in the past, the 1920’s and the present, the 1990’s and follows the lives of Arlette and her step granddaughter Betty.
Arlette’s story is set in the 1920’s. She comes from a little island called Guernsey but decides to go London to stay with a friend of her mother. Whilst there Arlette embarks on a colourful adventure and meets plenty of colourful characters, my favourite being the exotic Godfrey Pickle! He and Arlette embark upon a relationship, but as Betty soon discovers, it is a journey where heartbreak and tradegy are never far away.
Betty’s story is set in Soho, in the 1990’s. She also comes from Guernsey, having nursed her step grandmother Arlette throughout her last years. Betty is quite a quirky little character and very likeable. Having decided that she wishes to find the mystery beneficiary of Arlette’s will, her journey to find Miss Pickle, is not without drama which includes a world famous cocksure pop star and gentle market trader!
I have to say that this book had me hooked from the first page. I love how Lisa manages to effortlessly incorporate both periods within the book, switching between the two seamlessly. I just had to finish this book and find out who Miss Pickle was, did Arlette marry the man of her dreams, what was the terrible tragedy and did Betty solve the mystery in the end!
I really loved the narratives of both Arlette and Betty, which were both intriguing and moving. both periods in the book were brought to life and you felt the characters, their lives and their settings jump right off the page and place you in the thick of it!
This is by far the best book of 2012 that I have read so far and highly recommend that you all add this to your ‘to be read’ pile!
Physical and digital copies of Before I Met You are available here