Last year I was introduced to Lisa Jewell’s writing when I read and reviewed “The Girls in the Garden“. I was very impressed, and when I saw this title offered on NetGalley, I anticipated a good read. What I didn’t expect was that “I found you” was even better than “The Girls in the Garden”!
“Two decades of secrets, a missing husband, and a man with no memory are at the heart of this brilliant new novel.”
The present day narrative features Alice Lake, a single mum. She has had a rather colorful past and her three children reflect it. She calls them her Benetton family. An artist, Alice lives with her children and three dogs in a small cottage near the seashore in Ridinghouse Bay, Yorkshire. She makes a living making art out of old maps. Her one friend, Derry Dynes sees through Alice’s rather brusque manner and looks out for her in a supportive (though bossy) way.
One evening while walking her dogs on the beach, Alice comes across a man sitting on the shingle in the rain. He has been there for hours and is drenched through. Against her better instincts she invites him to her cottage to dry out. This act of compassionate kindness will forever change her life.
The man has no memory. He finds it difficult to assimilate information and make decisions. Alice Googles his condition and discovers that he is in a ‘fugue state‘ which is usually caused by emotional trauma. Because they have to call him something, her tiny daughter names him Frank. As the days pass, Alice becomes more and more drawn to this man but is wary of becoming involved. She fears that doing so would further complicate her already arduous and lonely life. She is a very sexual person, but her sexual desires have landed her in trouble many times in her life and she does not want to duplicate her previous mistakes. Alice fears that when ‘Frank’ regains his memories she will lose this man whom she has come to love dearly…
Lily Monrose is a newlywed. A Ukrainian, she has just moved to suburban London after a whirlwind courtship. Her husband, Carl Monrose, is devoted to her and she to him. The time Carl is at work is very lonely for Lily as she knows no one in England and finds British ways strange from what she is familiar with.
When, just ten days into their new life together, Carl does not return home after work, Lily becomes distraught. She reports him missing to the police. When she gives the police his passport to aid in their investigation, they find that Carl Monrose does not exist! The passport is fake. With little money, Lily enlists strangers to help her find the love of her life.
“She looks about the flat, as she’s done a hundred times since Carl didn’t come home on Tuesday night. At first all she’d seen was Carl’s absence. Now she sees his deceit.”
Then we meet the Ross Family in the summer of 1993.
Pam, Tony and their two teenage children Gray and Kirsty are on holiday in the small seaside town of Ridinghouse Bay, Yorkshire.
The family encounters a young man named Mark Tate. Mark is attracted to their daughter Kirsty, and is quite intense. Gray is very suspicious of him and wonders why nineteen year old Mark would be interested in his naive and innocent fifteen year old sister. Mark invites the entire family to his aunt’s house, a huge manor on the headland. He insinuate’s himself into Kirsty’s life and invites her to a party at his Aunt’s house. Gray goes to the party – partly to keep an eye on his sister, and partly because he is attracted to one of the girls that he knows will be there. The scenes at the party reminded me of the old Three Dog Night song: “Momma told me not to come“. Mark’s involvement with the Ross family is catastrophic to them all.
The three narratives alternate between chapters. Just after half way through this novel I thought I had ‘Frank’s’ identity worked out. I was wrong. The stories of Alice, Frank, Lily and Gray are skillfully bound together with clever plotting in an atmospheric setting.
The entire novel makes for some very compelling reading. So much so that I found myself being rather grumpy when my reading was interrupted. “I found you” was a very cleverly plotted, character-rich, suspenseful, literary thriller. Highly recommended!
I received a digital ARC of this novel from Atria Books/Simon & Schuster via NetGalley.
“I found you” is available at the following retail booksellers:
Lisa Jewell was born in London in 1968.
She worked for the fashion chain Warehouse for three years as a PR assistant and then for Thomas Pink, the Jermyn Street shirt company for four years as a receptionist and PA. She started her first novel, Ralph’s Party, for a bet in 1996. She finished it in 1997 and it was published by Penguin books in May 1998. It went on to become the best-selling debut novel of that year.
She has since written a further ten novels, as is currently at work on her twelfth.
She now lives in an innermost part of north London with her husband Jascha, an IT consultant, her daughters, Amelie and Evie and her silver tabbies, Jack and Milly.