Melville Heights is one of the nicest neighbourhoods 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…
Engrossing and surprising and sexy and angsty and all the things I adore about Lisa Jewell’s books!! A must-read.
‘Watching You’ begins with a crime scene, but who was the victim? Although I figured out the guilty party before the end, the motivation and backstory completely surprised me.
I adore the way Lisa Jewell explores the details of daily family life. No character here is who they seem to be, and the author very cleverly throws the reader off track many times. Several marriages seem perfect, others not so perfect, but every detail holds a clue for the reader.
The story is told in flashback after the discovery of a body. Told from several different points of view, at first ‘Watching You’ seems to be just a tale of neighboring families, until the narrative is abruptly interrupted by police interviews and then you remember that this is a thriller. Who was the victim? And who was the murderer?
”But nothing was often everything in forensics. Nothing could often be the answer to the whole bloody thing.”
The hapless Joey has a crush on the local school principal who also happens to be her neighbor. They are both married. But maybe the handsome and charismatic Mr. Fitzwilliam isn’t really as perfect as he seems.
”His reputation was unblemished. Everywhere he went he brought nothing but light and harmony. Happy children and sunshine.”
As the story unfolds in flashback and from police interviews, disturbing details arise about almost every character and a deepening sense of foreboding arises about Joey and Mr. Fitzwilliam’s growing flirtation.
”But what do you do with an unattainable crush once it’s yours to keep? What does it become? Should there perhaps be a word to describe it?Because that’s the thing with getting what you want: all that yearning and dreaming and fantasizing leaves a great big hole that can only be filled with more yearning and dreaming and fantasizing.”
The author is a master of descriptive prose and nuanced characters. I highlighted tons of passages but I can’t quote them without giving anything away! This was one of those books that I simply could not put down. I was completely engrossed in the wild twists and turns and was surprised by the delicious details, even up to the fantastic Epilogue. Another twisty, engrossing and intelligent thriller from Lisa Jewell. Highly recommend!
”She felt a terrible hollowness open up inside her, a sense that she was all alone, that she had in fact always been all alone, that the corners of her life were folding in and folding in, and that there was nothing she could do about it.”
(With thanks to the publisher for a review copy.)