Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Review & Giveaway: Before I Met You by Lisa Jewell (CLOSED)

***Congratulations to Meghan, winner of the giveaway!!! Thanks to all who entered!

Title: Before I Met You
Author: Lisa Jewell 
Published: October 2013 Atria Books (first published July 2012)
Format: ARC e-copy, 448 pages
Source: Netgalley

Jazz Age London, a passionate and forbidden interracial romance, and the unbreakable bond between a bright young woman and her eccentric grandmother come together brilliantly in this gem of a novel, perfect for fans of Downton Abbey, Twenties Girl, and The Chaperone.
Fresh out of university, Betty is ready to begin a new chapter of her life in London—one she hopes brings new friends, a big career break, and perhaps even true love. Following her dreams in bustling, grungy nineties Soho, she’s ready for whatever life has to throw at her. Or so she thinks…

In 1920s bohemian London, Arlette—Betty’s grandmother—is starting her new life in a time of post-war change. Beautiful and charismatic, Arlette is soon drawn into the hedonistic world of the Bright Young People. But two years after her arrival in London, tragedy strikes and she flees back to the country for the rest of her life.

As Betty tries to manage the ups and downs of adulthood, she’s distracted by a mysterious letter she finds after Arlette’s death—a letter written to a man Betty has never heard of but who meant the world to her grandmother. Will the secrets of Arlette’s past help Betty navigate her own path to happiness?

A heartwarming detective story and a captivating look at London then and now, Before I Met You is an unforgettable story about two very different women, separated by seventy years, but linked by a shared determination to make their dreams come true.

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Lisa Jewell and I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was definitely intrigued by both the description and the cover. I will say, though, that it does start out a bit slow and I did think of giving up, but am so glad I didn't as once I really got into the storyline, I found I couldn't put the book down!

Told in dual-line narrative, we are given both Betty and Arlette's stories. Betty is a young girl living in the present who ends up taking care of the elderly Arlette at the end of her life. When we first meet Arlette, she is eccentric and sometimes downright mean, but there's something about her that strikes a cord with Betty and so it's almost fitting that Betty would be not only be the one to see to her last days but then to find the mysterious person that's mentioned in her will.

Arlette grew up in the twenties and boy is she a different person than the old woman we first meet. As Betty digs into her past, the story alternates almost seamlessly between the two time periods. Betty moves to SoHo (in London) on her search to find this mysterious heir of Arlette's, and the story just takes off from there. On top of finding this person, there's the mystery of what the relation is to Arlette...something that really had me guessing all along.

There are many parallels between Arlette and Betty's lives - ones that aren't immediately apparent, but that come together in your mind after the whole story comes together. I won't spoil anything for you here - not to worry! I think this is what really makes these characters and their stories more powerful and compelling.

I quite agree with one statement made during the course of the book. Betty had made the acquaintance of an Alexandra, who had connections with the historical society and she said something along the lines of the following to Betty: "You know, if I could go back to any period in time, it would be the twenties - bright young people, jazz, everything new and fresh, and the clothes!" I don't know about you, but I would love to have been alive during the twenties for the clothes alone!!!

I really enjoyed this book and will definitely be checking out Lisa Jewell's other books. I really have fallen in love with the whole dual-time narrative way of story-telling. I just find that it adds a different layer to the overall story and in the case of this book, it definitely worked well!

GIVEAWAY DETAILS - (CLOSED) (Continental US only) 
Thanks to Ariel at Atria Books/Simon & Schuster I have one copy of Before I Met You to give away to my readers.

To enter… 

  • For 1 entry leave me a comment entering the giveaway. (For fun - share what time period you would want to come back to if you could - my answer is above!)
  • Tweet, share on Facebook, or blog for 2 extra entries.
  • Please include email address so I can contact you if you win.
This giveaway is open to Continental US residents only and ends November 15th.  

Good luck!


  1. I am so excited about this giveaway! Before I Met You sounds fantastic, and is right up my alley. Thanks for such a wonderful review as well. It reminds me of another book I just finished called, A Thousand Years of Johnny Von, by Edith M. Cortese, that has historical love stories weaved with the main character, Estella’s, present day experiences. Loved it!

    1. Ooh, that one sounds good, Audrey :-). Thanks for the share!

    2. My pleasure, Molly :-). Enjoy!

  2. I would love to visit the 1920's!

  3. This fascinating novel and great giveaway interests me very much. Wonderful era. thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  4. My ultimate favorite era which I would love to experience again is the 1940's and the 1950's for the beauty and simplicity. Thanks for this special and unique giveaway. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  5. I'd like to go back to the Middle Ages, in the 12th century.
    here is my tweet:
    thanks for the giveaway
    Emma @ Words And Peace
    ehc16e at yahoo dot com

  6. I would like to come back to 17th century Scotland! Thanks for the giveaway!
    I tweeted"

    mestith at gmail dot com

  7. I'd like to visit 1940s America and spend time with my grandmother in the country. I only knew her at the end of her life. It would also be fun to see my mom as a kid. I'm pretty sure she was a little spitfire.

    1. Forgot this part: mcstone84 (at) gmail (dot) com

  8. This book sounds very intriguing. I think I'd like to come back in the 1920s. Thanks for this giveaway.
    mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

  9. This sounds fabulous! I enjoyed your review, and agree that the fashions were a lot of fun. Please enter me in your giveaway. I'll post this in my blog's sidebar.


  10. Almost forgot to mention that I could see myself in the 1920s as well! :)

  11. I've been a fan of Lisa Jewell's books since Ralph's Party and have read most of her books. I have yet to read this one. If I came back, I'd do the roaring '20s!



Thank you so much for leaving a comment! I love interacting with other book lovers and appreciate any thoughts or feedback! If you read a book after seeing my review, please let me know. Come back and leave me a link to your review so I can read it. Thank you!!!

Blogger Template Created by pipdig