Lisa Jewell has quickly become one of my favorite authors. There is something just so subtle and smooth about her writing. And while she writes thrillers, they are more like domestic thrillers. Things that while could realistically happen right next door.
And she’s quite the prolific writer. I’ve reviewed not one other book, but two of her works in the past fifteens months–both Then She Was Gone and I Found You.
I’m never disappointed. And Watching You was no exception!
From the Publisher:
Melville Heights is one of the nicest neighborhoods in Bristol, England; home to doctors and lawyers and old-money academics. It’s not the sort of place where people are brutally murdered in their own kitchens. But it is the sort of place where everyone has a secret. And everyone is watching you.
As the headmaster credited with turning around the local school, Tom Fitzwilliam is beloved by one and all—including Joey Mullen, his new neighbor, who quickly develops an intense infatuation with this thoroughly charming yet unavailable man. Joey thinks her crush is a secret, but Tom’s teenaged son Freddie—a prodigy with aspirations of becoming a spy for MI5—excels in observing people and has witnessed Joey behaving strangely around his father.
One of Tom’s students, Jenna Tripp, also lives on the same street, and she’s not convinced her teacher is as squeaky clean as he seems. For one thing, he has taken a particular liking to her best friend and fellow classmate, and Jenna’s mother—whose mental health has admittedly been deteriorating in recent years—is convinced that Mr. Fitzwilliam is stalking her.
Meanwhile, twenty years earlier, a schoolgirl writes in her diary, charting her doomed obsession with a handsome young English teacher named Mr. Fitzwilliam…
In Lisa Jewell’s latest brilliant “bone-chilling suspense” (People) no one is who they seem—and everyone is hiding something. Who has been murdered—and who would have wanted one of their neighbors dead? As “Jewell teases out her twisty plot at just the right pace” (Booklist, starred review), you will be kept guessing until the startling revelation on the very last page.
Tom Fitzwilliam is the kind of guy that men want to be and women want to be with. Everyone loves him, he’s a brilliant educator with the power to turn a school around just with his mere presence. He’s amazing to just about everyone–including all the girls in his classes at school, all their moms and his new neighbor, Joey Mullen. From the beginning, the reader has to wonder. Is he really all that and more? Is that possible for anyone?
Joey is a an attractive young women who has just moved in with her brother and his pregnant wife along with her new husband, Alfie. Joey had thought Alfie was an Adonis from afar when she would watch him at the tropical resort they both worked at. But now home in the UK, he’s kind of an under-zealous, dumb hunk of a man that she no longer knows what to do with. So of course she is in love with her accomplished, handsome and charming older neighbor.
Jenna is a young girl making the best of her situation. Her parents split and her mother is slowly–or not so slowly–descending into madness. Jenna spends her days trying to be both a normal high school girl and a caretaker to her crazy mom.
Then there is Freddy Fitzwilliam, Tom’s high school age son. He’s far smarter than his years academically, but quite unable to communicate with his peers. So instead, he watches everyone in the neighborhood from his attic window. He observes the comings and goings of the neighborhood and knows all the secrets.
I could go on. There are so many other richly drawn characters in this novel. Of course there is Tom’s seemingly unhappy wife, Jenna’s best friend Bess who may have more than just a schoolgirl crush and Joey’s unfriendly and standoffish sister-in-law.
Some authors make a mistake by having far too many characters that blend together. However, Jewell has flawlessly drawn all these characters. Watching You really shines when the reader gets to sit back and watch all the interactions.
One thing I slightly had issue with is Tom’s perceived attractiveness. I know the type of man he is, I mean, we’ve all seen those guys. But it seems like all the female characters are actively lusting after him at all times unless they have a good reason not to. I thought that was a little strange. I mean, most people have a specific type. It’s hard for one man to fit that for everyone. But hey, maybe he’s the pants to this Sisterhood of Traveling Pants.
Watching You is a quick read, mostly because you won’t be able to stop turning the pages furiously, with lots of satisfying twists and turns. This one is available December 26. So gift a pic of it to someone who loves a good thriller and it will arrive the next day.
Special thanks to Atria Books and Netgalley for a complimentary e-galley in exchange for my honest review.
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I’m reading this one now – wonderful review!
Great review Vicky! I just finished this one recently and I really liked it. Your review is spot on, with your astute observations. Nicely done!
Thanks!! I can’t wait for her next one. lol
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