Review: The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell


Review: The Girls in the Garden

Author: Lisa Jewell

Published: June 7th 2016, Atria Books

Status: Read April 2019 – courtesy Atria/Netgalley



My Thoughts:

In need of refuge after a family tragedy, Clare and her two pre-teen daughters, Pip and Grace, move into a central London flat that backs onto a walled communal park. It’s not long before the girls make friends with some of the other children in the community, notably homeschooled sisters Catkin, Willow and Fern, neglected wild child Taylor, and the handsome Dylan, but the girls presence unwittingly upsets the delicate balance of the insular group.

The narrative of The Girls in The Garden is divided into four sections. It begins with a shocking incident on midsummers eve, then leaps back several months to relate earlier events in ‘Before’, leading to the immediate aftermath in ‘After’, with an additional epilogue set ten months later. It’s an effective format that piques the reader’s interest from the outset, however though we learn how, and why, Grace was attacked, to me the story ultimately felt unresolved. I think this is due to what I felt was a lack of consequences for all those involved.

Themes Jewell explores in the story includes mental illness, contrasting parenting styles, the illusion of safety, and the dynamics of group behaviour. The setting of the private community was an inspired choice, providing the ideal backdrop for the author to delve into these issues.

It’s commonly accepted to be difficult to authentically portray children in novels. To be fair they are often contradictory creatures, and ‘tweenagers’ are particularly mercurial. I thought Jewell captured the personalities of the quite adolescents well in The Girls in the Garden, however the contradictions in Pip’s character didn’t quite work for me. I just didn’t believe she had the sophistication necessary to interpret the undercurrents of motive and emotion in the story in the manner in which she did.

Though it has its flaws, I did quite enjoy The Girls in the Garden. It was a quick read, that I found thought provoking and suspenseful.



Available to Purchase via

Simon & Schuster US I Indiebound I Amazon US I Book Depository

Published as The Girls in the UK/ Australian market

Penguin AU I Penguin UK I Booko I Book Depository

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Greg
    Apr 27, 2019 @ 09:50:54

    I liked this one a lot but I also felt like it was unresolved… certain people did not have consequences, or at least not the way I expected. I totally agree. It was kind of unsettling too as I recall (I think it’s been a couple of years since I read it). I was looking for a little more wrap up?

    Liked by 1 person


  2. jolenewilsonblog
    Apr 27, 2019 @ 23:28:04

    I have read a couple other Lisa Jewell books and enjoyed them. I will have to check this one out.

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Mystica
    Apr 28, 2019 @ 13:23:11

    This book is a new one for me. Thanks for the review.

    Liked by 1 person


  4. StackingMy BookShelves
    Apr 29, 2019 @ 02:33:49

    I haven’t read Lisa Jewell yet but I have a few of her books that I can’t wait to get to.


    Liked by 1 person


  5. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? | book'd out

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