Published: 9th March 2017
Started reading: February 6
Finished reading: February 11
Trigger warnings: Sexual assault, drug use
In Surrey, 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.
Meanwhile, in East Yorkshire, Alice Lake finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement she invites him in to her home.
But who is he, and how can she trust a man who has lost his memory?
This book was a puzzle that I enjoyed trying to solve. Most of it eventually falls into place relatively easily and without many major revelations, but the beauty of the novel came with the brilliantly crafted unravelling of the mystery, and some very sophisticated character-building.
Lisa Jewell never fails to write engaging books with interesting plots, and here it is typically fast paced and multi-layered from the beginning as multiple aspects of the story are introduced. It remains immersive until the end, where all the loose ends are neatly tied up.
The mystery is established immediately, when Alice discovers ‘Frank’ sitting on the beach and having lost his memory, while many miles away, Lily reports her husband missing after he fails to return home from work.
A short way into the book, these two storylines begin to alternate with another one, set in 1993. From here, the plot grows considerably more complex and the foundations of the mystery slowly begin to take shape.
The three storylines are all very different, yet inextricably connected, and on the whole they are all written really well. The chapters are short, but each character was well developed and there were underlying themes that were explored with great subtlety.
The best example is Alice’s loneliness, and how it is emphasised by ‘Frank”s sudden presence. I liked her as a character for honesty and generosity, while her flaws made her seem extremely genuine. I also found Lily fairly likeable, if a little less believable.
This is also at times an emotional read, which is most evident during the 1993 storyline. I loved the brother/sister relationship between Gray and Kirsty, and that made what happened later feel all the more tragic. These chapters were full of suspense!
I have to mention the setting. Ridinghouse Bay is vividly described and really carries the feel of a traditional English seaside resort. The evocative detail made the town easy to imagine, and even better, there is a map just inside the book that also marks the main locations.
Overall, I enjoyed almost every aspect of this book. It is well written with great characters and it poses some fascinating questions. Though the mystery element is hardly unpredictable the further you go, the plot is still smartly constructed. This is my fourth Lisa Jewell book, and so far they have all been good, entertaining reads.