52 Books: Before I Met You by Lisa Jewell

I love Lisa Jewell’s books. Thirtynothing is one of my all-time faves and I also really loved The Making of Us (Lisa’s last book before this one).

Before I Met You is a slight departure in that it’s Lisa’s first book featuring dual narratives: that of Betty Dean, living in Soho in the 1990s, and Arlette, Betty’s grandmother, in London in the 1920s. Sometimes when I read a book with dual narratives, I favour one over the other and am disappointed when they switch – that never happened with Before I Met You. I loved the characters of Betty and Arlette and loved the descriptions of London both in the 90s and the 20s (if I had to choose, I’d probably go for Betty’s story, since I was working, if not living, in Soho in the 90s and so much of it was enjoyably familiar).

I find myself saying “sad and funny and true” about so many books, but I don’t see why that should stop me saying it again about this one. It’s a bit of a heartbreaker, I have to say. I read the last 100+ pages in one go, after getting up in the night to read “just for a bit”. I didn’t go back to bed, but instead finished reading at 5.45am, tears streaming down my face and with a numb bum. That’s the mark of a good read, right there. (No? Okay then.)

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