Thank you to Atria Books for sending me a free copy of Watching You by Lisa Jewell in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis from Amazon:
Melville Heights is one of the nicest neighborhoods in Bristol, England; home to doctors and lawyers and old-money academics. It’s not the sort of place where people are brutally murdered in their own kitchens. But it is the sort of place where everyone has a secret. And everyone is watching you.
As the headmaster credited with turning around the local school, Tom Fitzwilliam is beloved by one and all—including Joey Mullen, his new neighbor, who quickly develops an intense infatuation with this thoroughly charming yet unavailable man. Joey thinks her crush is a secret, but Tom’s teenaged son Freddie—a prodigy with aspirations of becoming a spy for MI5—excels in observing people and has witnessed Joey behaving strangely around his father.
One of Tom’s students, Jenna Tripp, also lives on the same street, and she’s not convinced her teacher is as squeaky clean as he seems. For one thing, he has taken a particular liking to her best friend and fellow classmate, and Jenna’s mother—whose mental health has admittedly been deteriorating in recent years—is convinced that Mr. Fitzwilliam is stalking her.
Meanwhile, twenty years earlier, a schoolgirl writes in her diary, charting her doomed obsession with a handsome young English teacher named Mr. Fitzwilliam…
I’ve got to start by saying that this book is 100% character driven. And what unusual characters they are! To be honest, I was a little thrown off for about the first half of the book. It seemed to be full of odd characters that went about their daily lives doing very odd things. And there are a lot of these peculiar characters, all strangely interacting with one another.
In the second half of the book, I was beginning to see where things were going, and the ending was very good. Please make sure to read the epilogue, too, because there is one last final bombshell to be dropped. But no spoilers here!
I found Watching You to be very outside of what I have come to expect from Lisa Jewell. The few novels of hers that I have read tend to have a bit of a pulling at the heart strings but there was none of that here. I actually didn’t like any of the characters in Watching You, I thought they were all pretty despicable. So is it a good thing for an author to go in a different direction? I think so.
I did end up liking this book as a whole, even though the parts separately I didn’t like. I’m struggling to decide on a rating but I think I will go right in the middle at 3 out of 5 stars. I hated the characters, I couldn’t connect with them or what they were doing, but everything wove together in the end. If you like Lisa Jewell, I think this one is definitely worth reading, but be prepared from something different.