“Watching You” by Lisa Jewell – Book Review

High on a hill in Bristol, England there is a street of colourful houses. The neighbourhood is called Melville Heights. It is here, in this affluent, innocuous location, that a brutal murder took place…

We meet some of the people who live there…

Tom Fitzwilliam – a ‘super’ head teacher who has made a reputation for himself turning around schools who have fallen below expectations. Charismatic, Tom is in his early fifties and is married with one son, Freddie. Tom is watching Freddie.

Nicola Fitzwilliam – Tom’s wife. Much younger than her husband, Nicola seems besotted with him and does everything to please him – often to the detriment of her relationship with her son. Nicola is watching Tom.

Freddie Fitzwilliam – Fifteen years old, fiercely intelligent, and friendless, Freddie lives at the top of the house. It is here that he uses his digital binoculars to ‘watch’ everyone. He keeps a journal he calls the Melville Papers. Nothing escapes his notice. Freddie watches everyone.

Joey (Josephine) Mullen – is a twenty-seven year old newlywed who married in haste and is now questioning her decision. She is very fond of her handsome husband, Alfie, but she treats him like a puppy – and doesn’t want to break his heart…. She and Alfie live with her brother Jack and his pregnant wife, Rebecca . Joey works at a children’s daycare centre and is lusting after her attractive neighbour, Tom Fitzwilliam. Joey is watching Tom.

Jenna Tripp – a schoolgirl who attends the school where Tom Fitzwilliam is the head. She lives with her mentally ill mother, Frances who is paranoid and thinks she is being ‘gang-stalked’ and spied upon. Jenna is watching her mother – and her best friend Bess.

Bess Ridley – Jenna’s best friend also lives alone with her mother.  She has a schoolgirl crush on the new head teacher.  Bess is watching Tom. 

You have to admire this author who can create a myriad of characters, keep them all distinct, and create a convoluted scenario that works magnificently.

The teenagers are the stars in this novel. Freddie and Jenna were my favourite characters. Freddie, with his first crush (with which his brilliance cannot help him) and Jenna with her struggles to maintain a normal life living with her paranoid mother.  I even became fond of Joey, despite her poor life choices.

As a naive adult, I was astonished at how much the teens used ‘Snapchat’ to communicate and to track each other with ‘Snap Map’. It was an eye-opener.

This novel has many themes in addition to it being a crime thriller. It tells of conflicted teenagers in the age of advanced social media. It explores people who feel ‘trapped’ by their choice of marriage partners. It gives credence to the idea of ‘grooming’ adolescents by adults in positions of authority.

I liked the way the story was told via flashbacks which were interspersed with police interviews following a brutal murder.

This is Lisa Jewell’s sixteenth novel and she has honed her craft to such an extent that she is now one of my automatic buy/read authors. I need not even read the blurb, I’m sure to enjoy her work. Highly recommended!

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Atria Books/Simon & Schuster via NetGalley.

 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.

Follow Lisa Jewell on Twitter

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
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30 Responses to “Watching You” by Lisa Jewell – Book Review

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  9. carhicks says:

    Wonderful review Lynne. Lisa Jewell is an autoread for me as well. I love how she develops her characters and makes you connect with them in various ways. I am looking forward to her upcoming release, The Family Upstairs.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Love Lisa Jewell, she is an auto buy for me. And I like the sound of the Snapchat element. Can’t wait to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

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  12. Great review! Every time I see this cover I feel the need to check it out … it really is a great cover. Good to know that there’s a great book behind it!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Kim Rogers says:

    Loved your review! I enjoyed this one also. Yes, well Snapchat is a bit of a mystery to me…and that is fine by me! LOL


  14. Mani says:

    Fab review!!! I loved reading this book.


  15. Wonderful review! So glad you enjoyed it too 😊


  16. L Lostinacoulee says:

    So glad you enjoyed this too! Great review!


  17. Seems like a good read…I think I read something by this author before…mmmm

    Liked by 1 person

  18. stargazer says:

    This title keeps popping up whenever I browse the kindle bookstore. Guess I must have read similar titles before. So far I have resisted, but whenever I see a positive review my resistance is weakening 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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