The Girls in the Garden

The Girls in the Garden

by Lisa Jewell


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One of People’s, Glamour’s, and Buzzfeed's Best Reads of Summer, from the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone

“Jewell expertly builds suspense by piling up domestic misunderstandings and more plot twists than an SVU episode. It’s a page-turner for readers who like beach reads on the dark side.” —People

“Faithful to the thriller genre, Jewell makes liberal use of red herrings and plot twists... The answer to the whodunit is a sly—and satisfying—surprise.” —The New York Times

Full of suspense yet emotionally grounded...Fans of Liane Moriarty, Paula Hawkins, and Carla Buckley will adore this peek inside a gated community that truly takes care of its own, no matter the consequences." —Booklist (starred review)

Imagine that you live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses. You’ve known your neighbors for years and you trust them. Implicitly. You think your children are safe. But are they really?

On a midsummer night, as a festive neighborhood party is taking place, preteen Pip discovers her thirteen-year-old sister Grace lying unconscious and bloody in a hidden corner of a lush rose garden. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476792224
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: 04/04/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 40,575
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Lisa Jewell is the internationally bestselling author of eighteen novels, including the New York Times bestseller Then She Was Gone, as well as I Found You, The Girls in the Garden, and The House We Grew Up In. In total, her novels have sold more than two million copies across the English-speaking world and her work has also been translated into sixteen languages so far. Lisa lives in London with her husband and their two daughters. Connect with her on Twitter @LisaJewellUK and on Facebook @LisaJewellOfficial.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Girls in the Garden includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

When the family home of Clare and her two daughters, Grace and Pip, is burnt to the ground, an apartment on a picturesque communal garden square looks like the perfect opportunity for all of them to forge a new life. Clare befriends stay-at-home mother Adele and her charming husband, Leo, and the girls begin spending time with a clique of neighborhood children. Everyone seems very welcoming and friendly to the newcomers. That is, until a festive neighborhood party takes a turn for the violent, and preteen Pip discovers her thirteen-year-old sister Grace lying unconscious and bloody in a hidden corner of a lush rose garden. Who in this close-knit community can they really trust?

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Who did you first suspect of attacking Grace? Did your suspicions change over the course of the book? Were there clues that pointed you toward the perpetrator? What were some of the red herrings that misdirected your attention?

2. Adele has a very lenient, alternative parenting style, homeschooling and preferring to let her children make their own choices, whatever they are. She repeatedly suggests that she feels judged by others for her lifestyle. How did you feel about how she is raising her children? Were there points in the book you felt supportive or critical of her maternal choices?

3. The police suggest that Grace is “mature for her age” (page 206). Do you agree that Grace is (or is acting) more mature than her age? If so, how? How do Grace’s or Pip’s experiences compare with your own experience of being twelve and thirteen?

4. A major issue in this book is that of growing up. What growth do you see in Pip from the beginning to the end of The Girls in the Garden? Compare and contrast Pip’s development with the ways in which Grace matures.

5. Do you think Clare made the right decision in keeping Pip and Grace’s father’s release from the hospital a secret? Why or why not?

6. Adele asserts that “with parenting there’s a long game and a short game. The aim of the short game is to make your children bearable to live with. Easy to transport. Well behaved in public place . . . But the aim of the long game is to produce a good human being” (page 150). Do you agree with her belief that you can “skip” the short game? Is there a middle ground between her viewpoint and Gordon’s discipline-focused approach?

7. What draws Clare to Leo? Is her attraction to him based more on her own circumstances or something about him?

8. Why do you think Lisa Jewell wrote primarily from Pip, Clare, and Adele’s perspectives? What do these narrators have in common? What is unique about their different standpoints, and how does this affect the story?

9. Did you relate to any of the girls or parents more than the others? In what ways?

10. Do you think you would enjoy living in a home with a communal garden like the one described? What are some of the benefits and drawbacks?

11. What drives Catkin and Fern to follow Tyler’s lead? What do you think were their motivations for taking the actions they took?

12. Why does Adele ultimately look after Tyler? Are her motives purely selfless?

13. Do you think Adele does the right thing by keeping quiet after she discovers what happened to Grace? What would you have done in her position?

14. All of the girls go through both traumatic and formative experiences during the course of the book. What do you think the various girls will be like when they are grown up?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. We are given only a limited window into Tyler and Grace’s points of view on the day of Virginia Park’s annual summer party. As a group, choose an earlier scene to write in either Grace or Tyler’s voice. Share and discuss your creative pieces with your book club.

2. Pip and Grace are both significantly affected by their father’s struggle with schizophrenia. As a group, try reading another novel which depicts the impact of parental mental illness, such as Outside the Lines by Amy Hatvany.

3. Watch the film Thirteen (directed by Catherine Hardwicke). Discuss how the film portrays the turning point of becoming a teenager. What ideas from The Girls in the Garden are echoed in the film? How does the role of the parents compare between the film and The Girls?

4. Check out more of Lisa Jewell’s books, such as The Third Wife and The House We Grew Up In. To find out more about Lisa, visit, or follow her on twitter @lisajewelluk.

Customer Reviews

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The Girls in the Garden 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Super quick read, could not put it down. Rich characters that feel so dimensional and true. I was torn at the ending, but realized it fit the story and the characters, not just the design of a neat tied up ending. Will definitely look for more from this writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just started reading this author and will continue, the interest was kept threw the whole book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book had promise but the ending was a disappointment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good story and characters.
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell is set in modern day London. Clare Wild and her two daughters, Pip (11) and Clare (12) have just moved into an open plan housing estate. The various buildings all back up onto a private park called Virginia Park (three acres). It is one giant backyard for the children who live in these buildings. The family had to move from their home because their father, Chris set fire to it (luckily no one was home). He wanted to stop the alien rat invasion that had infested their home. He thought he was saving the world (paranoid schizophrenia). Chris is currently in a mental health facility (they are putting him on new meds). Clare and Grace do not want any contact with him, but Pip writes him frequently. Pip is not allowed, though, to tell him where they have moved or any information that will lead Chris to their current whereabouts. Adele and Leo live across the way from the and they have three daughters (Willow, Catkin, and Fern). Grace quickly makes friends with the girls along with Tyler (another girl) and Dylan Maxwell-Reid. Pip is more of an observer. On July 5 (six months after they moved in) there is the Virginia Park Annual Summer Party. It is also Grace’s thirteenth birthday. Pip goes to look for Grace about 10 p.m. and finds her unconscious (and in a state of undress). Grace is in a coma with a broken nose. What happened to Grace in the park? The police are called in and they start questioning the residents. Will they be able to uncover what happened that night in Virginia Park? I found The Girls in the Garden to be an odd novel. It took me about four tries to get through this book. I have been trying to finish it since June (it was just hard to get into). The book is set up with Pip finding Grace in the park, then there is the “before” section. Grace is found and then we have the “after” section. The writing is satisfactory, but the pace is slow. At first it seems to be from Pip’s perspective, but then it changes to Clare, then Adele (it keeps changing). The letters Pip writes to her father are also included in the book along with childish drawings. I felt the author tried to put too many characters into the books. We have the main characters and then all the strange neighbors (Rhea with her giant rabbit was my favorite). All the various characters just muddles the story and confuses the reader. I give The Girls in the Garden 2 out of 5 stars (I did not like it). The book contains inappropriate language, large quantities of alcohol, and intimate relations (the majority of this is among the kids). I did not feel any suspense or mystery. The identity of the perpetrator is obvious (in both crimes). The ending is terribly unsatisfying (and very peculiar). This would be a good book for parents to read on how not to raise their children. After I finished the novel, I was just disappointed (and felt I had wasted four hour of my life).
SeaKyle More than 1 year ago
Quite slow to start, a lot of characters to remember in a short period of time. It was a well written story - very interesting study of community and family and like another reviewer stated - what happens when trust is lost. **SPOILER** - I wish the persons responsible for what happened were punished. It was deserved.
Laura_at_125Pages More than 1 year ago
The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewel is an interesting look at what happens when trust is given openly and what happens when a community no longer feels that trust. Peoples’ pasts and motives are dissected and everyone many not be who they seem. In a neighborhood that backs onto a private park everyone trusts that their children are safe and that their neighbors mean them no harm. Then a thirteen-year-old girl is found unconscious after a block party and everyone is a suspect. The Girls in the Garden has a very interesting plot. A peaceful community where the secrets are hidden deep and start to come to light after a young girl is attacked. Everyone becomes a suspect and life in this idyllic location will never be the same. Lisa Jewell has a way of writing that can suck you deep into the story. She is able to convey a true glimpse of many characters at the same time, which is not easy to do. I did have some issues with the pacing. At times the story moved at a great pace that kept me super engaged, but then it would slow way down and it was a bit jolting. The world created felt vast even though it was contained to just the homes surrounding the garden. The emotions ran high and I liked that there were deep emotions coming through. I liked the characters but did not love any of them. Everyone was an integral part of the community and had a place in the story, but with such a large cast it made it difficult to connect with any one person. The Girls in the Garden was an interesting read. I really enjoyed the community based structure of the story and the tension that created. I also liked the deep dive into the residents pasts and the way they all tied together. I was not a huge fan of the ending but it did make sense in the scope of the story. Lisa Jewell created a story that was both intriguing and engaging and I thoroughly enjoyed the read. Original review @ I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Musings_of_Madjy More than 1 year ago
*3.5 Rounded Up The characters are all well-formed, though there is a shroud of darkness and sense of haunting over them all. As you need in a mystery, there is a variety of characters that help throwing red herrings left and right. The mystery itself is a pleasure to read! The first half of the story is slow-paced, but it grows on you as the story unfolds. I felt that the detective work being done by multiple characters was perfect as you head towards the reveal. The POV third person felt a little disconnected, though I'm not sure if that is because of the afforementioned "darkness" (and thus very intentional). I didn't exactly connect with any of the characters, but enjoyed being the audience for it, nonetheless. The ending was absolutely unexpected and I appreciate how unpredictable it was, and that it really wasn't what it seems. It was unsettling though, the way everything wraps up and exactly what happens to the attacker. On one hand, my being more like Adele (more sympathetic), I am glad for what happened. But on the other, it feels like justice wasn't really served and that history could repeat itself. Overall, a solid story told from the perspective of the mothers and teenagers with a good amount of intrigue! I received a digital ARC from the publisher through for an honest, unbiased review. This in no way influenced my review. My opinion is my 100% own.
Caroles_Random_Life More than 1 year ago
I thought that this was a good book overall. I have heard great things about Lisa Jewell's writing and decided to give her work a try with this book. For some reason I never seemed to be able to fit this book into my reading schedule so I decided to listen to the audiobook. While I didn't love the book, I did enjoy the hours that I spent listening to it. This book takes place with a community garden at its center. Families have grown up around this garden where children have been free to play and watch out for each other. This book does have a rather large cast of characters and we hear from several main points of view. Pip is a new resident and doesn't seem to fit in quite like her older sister, Grace. Adele has lived in the community for a long time and is the mother of some of the girls that Grace has become friends with. Clare is Pip and Grace's mother and has recently had some major life changes and is trying to find her way. The book opens with Grace being found after an attack then goes back to the events that lead up to that moment. Despite the fact that I knew there would be some excitement, I found that the book seemed to move pretty slowly. There were a lot of characters and I never really connected with any of them very well. There were a lot of side stories that were interesting but never seemed to take the book to the next level for me. I believe that this was the first time that I have listened to Colleen Prendergast's narration. I thought that she did a good job with the story overall. There were a few times that it took me a moment to determine which character's point of view the book had moved to. I did think that she had a nice quality to her reading voice and it was easy to listen to this book for hours at a time. I would recommend this book to others. This wasn't a favorite for me but it was a quality story that did keep me guessing. I definitely plan to read more of Lisa Jewell's work in the future. I received a digital review copy of this book from Atria Books via NetGalley and borrowed a copy of the audiobook from the library via Hoopla.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
nolenreads More than 1 year ago
A little cloister of people live in their upscale town homes that surround a lovely parkland. The history of the people that live there involves the death of a teenager in the parkland years previous to the girls moving in with their mother. The story revolves around the lives of the single mom and her two girls. Well written, intriguing story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
miscjill More than 1 year ago
Loved this book! It was a great page-turner and I loved the confined setting of the park where they all lived!
Stacie67 More than 1 year ago
I'm indifferent about this book. I did finish it, though it left me unsatisfied. It was a good story to keep you engaged, but nothing outstanding.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings The idyllic neighborhood with the perfect community park seems like the perfect spot for Clare to move her two daughters after a tragedy occurs at their home taking their father away from them. She thinks the community feel may help them heal. But tragedy can strike anywhere and in the first chapter, the reader finds out that Clare's older daughter is found in this idyllic park unconscious and in a compromising situation. The story then goes back in time to show what events lead to the incident in the park. I always love a book that opens with the main event and then takes the reader back in time to show all the puzzle pieces to get the characters to that conclusion. This book not only did that, but had an end chapter to give a full story conclusion as to how the characters were 10 months after the incident - I am so glad! I loved getting to visit the characters after the incident and see where it took them.
SheTreadsSoftly More than 1 year ago
The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell is a highly recommended novel of suspense. Due to tragic family circumstances, Clare and her two daughters, Pip and Grace (on the verge of turning 12 and 13), have moved into an apartment where the neighborhood shares a large (3 acres), picturesque communal garden spot. The neighborhood has a playground and garden areas for all the residents to enjoy. The girls make friends in the neighborhood. But before we learn any of this, we know that something terrible has happened to Grace, It happens right at the start, when Pip is trying to take care of her drunk mother and Grace is not home yet, presumably still out enjoying the neighborhood block party. When Pip goes out to look for Grace, she finds her unconscious and bloody, lying in the rose garden. At this point the narrative jumps back in time, to when Pip, Grace, and Clare moved to the neighborhood. We see the girls observe and meet the neighbors, and make friends. The story is mainly told through Pip, Clare, and Adele, a neighbor and mother of three girls Grace befriends. Part of Pip's dialogue is told through letters she has written to her dad, including some drawings, who is away. We learn the backstory. We learn about the history of some of the residents in the neighborhood. We know that a girl died in the park years before and that her death might be connected to what is happening now. You need to meet these people, learn their history, note observations made by some of the characters (especially Pip) and keep track of it all. You know something awful is going to happen in the near future, which increases the tension as you meet the neighbors, who could all be suspects. The Girls in the Garden is definitely a character driven novel. Jewell does a masterful job creating these characters and then slowly developing the intricate plot around them. There are several suspects, but who would have hurt Grace? And will Pip's observations lead to an answer? With the opening we know something awful will happen. There is one great quote which I simply have to share that captures the tone of the novel: "I'm talking about kids, Mrs. H. Terrible, dreadful, blasted awful kids. They've all got a darkness inside them. They've all got the capacity for evil. Give them free range over a piece of territory, like that out there, and you’ve got Lord of the Flies. You cannot afford to take your eye off the ball for a second. Not for even a second...." This quote captures the feeling of the novel perfectly. The children and very young teens are allowed much more freedom to run around and do as they please. The garden, surrounded by their neighborhood, has apparently left the residents, adults and children, with a false sense of security. The suspect isn't cut and dried; there are multiple suspects. Excellent writing combined with anticipation of forthcoming answers and a gradual increase of tension as more and more of the story is told make this a worthy page turner. Disclosure: My advanced reading copy was courtesy of the publisher for review purposes.
Lilac_Wolf More than 1 year ago
A Lilac Wolf and Stuff Review **I received a free digital copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review** This was a fantastic book. Very dark, so don't think this is some happy coming of age story. The story starts with 12 yr old Pip finding her 13 year old sister, Grace, nearly naked and unconscious. She covers her sister and runs back to get her mother. Then it goes back and the whole picture unfolds. Clare just moved into this neighborhood with her 2 daughters. She is on her own for the first time in ages, her husband is in a mental hospital and she doesn't know if she can ever forgive him. If she can ever let him back in. Grace and Pip find themselves on their own much of the time and become friends with the "3 sisters" who live just down the park a bit. Adele and Leo are the 3 sisters parents. Adele home-schools, and Leo is the dad that everyone knows they can count on. As the story progresses, things come to light that make Adele question the people in her life. All the characters are so complex, I couldn't believe how she wrote with such flourish and color. It is not a happy story, but it is one heck of a deep mystery. It's about friends and family, and growing up. I absolutely loved this adventure.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
Woah, thought I was going to have to stop reading this book. I thought it was leading toward a way I was not even interested in going. However, I trudged through and was happy to find out that I was totally wrong. I can definitely say this book held my interest. There were a couple of slow spots, but not enough to make me want to give up. The huge twists throughout the book though give you incentive to keep on reading. I would say I was certainly entertained. Thanks to Atria Books for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
Xkoqueen More than 1 year ago
The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewel is a crime thriller with an odd collection of characters living in a unique setting that allows for a lot of possibilities. I would not call any of the characters particularly likable and many are not memorable. However, they’re empathetic. From the strange homeschooled girls to neglected, under-supervised urchins, the neighborhood gang of kids’ only commonality is a communal walled garden/park in the center of their square. Interestingly, the story starts with the crime scene then jumps back one year to the start of the story. The story starts when Clare moves her two daughters into a neighborhood of London flats after her mentally-unstable husband burned their house to the ground. The addition of a new teen and ‘tween to the well-established group of kids seems to upset the balance like the addition of an invasive non-native plant in a delicate ecosystem. The story is narrated in the third-person with a lot of dialogue so readers get a good feel for most of the characters. There are a few who are left rather ambiguous undoubtedly to create doubt in the reader. As the story progresses toward the day of the crime, petty jealousies become apparent, red herrings are thrown in the path, and doubts and suspicions abound. The plot pace picks up significantly once the crime has occurred and the investigation begins. The once seemingly endless list of possible of suspects is quickly whittled down, and the culprit becomes rather obvious. I will admit that my prediction at the start of the read was 180 degrees off the mark, but soon after the investigation starts, I did figure out the who and the why of the crime. The Girls in the Garden has an interesting premise, an even pace, and the writing is technically good. The bizarre cast of characters would normally hold more appeal for me. To some degree, the careful development of the odd lot of characters detracted from building a rich plot that supported the impetuous crime. I have to say that I’m somewhat ambivalent about this book. I would have been hooked with more foreboding and plot tension. For me this book was okay, it just didn’t keep me on the edge of my seat which is what I look for in a crime thriller.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago