REVIEW: I FOUND YOU, BY LISA JEWELL

In a windswept British seaside town, single mom Alice Lake finds a man sitting on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, and no idea how he got there. Against her better judgment, she invites him inside.

Meanwhile, in a suburb of London, 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.

Twenty-three years earlier, Gray and Kirsty are teenagers on a summer holiday with their parents. Their annual trip to the quaint seaside town is passing by uneventfully, until an enigmatic young man starts paying extra attention to Kirsty. Something about him makes Gray uncomfortable—and it’s not just that he’s playing the role of protective older brother.

Two decades of secrets, a missing husband, and a man with no memory are at the heart of this brilliant new novel.

MY THOUGHTS: 

Almost immediately, I was caught up into the life of Alice Lake and the man she finds on the beach. She is drawn to him, even though her best friend Derry warns her that he could be dangerous. But Alice, an artist, and someone who doesn’t necessarily follow a conventional path, is willing to take the risk. She feels something special in this man.The children are wary at first, but soon, even the dogs have befriended him. They call him Frank.

Meanwhile, in alternating chapters, we watch as a woman named Lily, a newly-wed in a London suburb, desperately tries to find Carl, her missing husband.

Flashing back to 1993, a story unfolds involving Gray and Kirsty Ross, and a handsome rich boy named Mark Tate, who quickly turns from charming to frightening. Each time we flash back, more of the mysterious puzzle pieces fit together.

What is the connection, if any, between these seemingly unrelated characters? Are the events in the present day a surreal coincidence, or might there be a tie between them?

I Found You was a riveting tale that kept me engaged, and even as I thought I had figured out the mysteries and the connections, I was only partially correct. I liked the ending, which felt hopeful. 5 stars.

***
Advertisements

REVIEW: MEMENTO MORI, BY MURIEL SPARK

51K0q4u4D3L

The author shines a spotlight on the thoughts and preoccupations of an aging population in the story Memento Mori (New Directions Classic).

Set in England in the 1950s, we meet the elderly characters residing sometimes on their own, or with a spouse, or in nursing homes. In all cases, their fears of those who would ignore them or harm them are articulated as persecutions. One specific persecution takes the form of anonymous phone calls with the message: “Remember you must die.”

As each person experiences the calls, he or she describes the caller’s voice to the police. But they all report something different. Eventually, it seems likely that the calls are a form of hallucination that stems from a preoccupation with death and loss.

Some consider this tale to be a kind of dark comedy, and while I found the characters interesting and very realistically developed, having known people from this age group whose preoccupations have turned to paranoia at times, I soon tired of the tale and was happy to finally come to its end. 3.0 stars.

A QUEST, A MYSTERY, & FAMILY CONNECTIONS — A REVIEW

91BqJqRDFCL._SL1500_

From a cottage in the English countryside in the year 1803, to a manor house in England in the 1940s, a rare and unique camellia takes center stage in a mystery and a journey. And in New York at the New Millennium, a botanist named Addison Sinclair finds herself on her own journey to learn more about the gardens in that same manor house now belonging to her husband’s family.

The Last Camellia: A Novel sweeps across the years to tell the story and to introduce the reader to the families whose gardens feature the exquisite flower. And despite the lovely rare blooms, or sometimes because of them, we also see the sadness, the loss, and the betrayals that surround them all. Narrated in the first person voice of Flora, in 1940, and Addison, in 2000, the shifting perspective brought out each woman’s story very effectively.

What lengths would flower thieves go to in order to obtain a rare camellia called the Middlebury Pink? How does a woman named Flora, trying to save her parents in New York, become mixed up in a plot to steal the flower? And how will love and family connections change the course of her life? Will she be one of a group of women who mysteriously disappears and never returns?

There were a number of curious incidences and unanswered questions that finally came together near the end of the story. Some seemingly isolated threads converged to bring out a mystical connection between the characters. An unforgettable story that I enjoyed thoroughly, although there were a few extraneous episodes that seemed unnecessary. Therefore, four stars.