Watching You (Jewell)

Watching You 
Lisa Jewell, 2018
Atria Books
336 pp.
ISBN-13:
9781501190070


Summary
A suspenseful page-turner about a shocking murder in a picturesque and well-to-do English town.

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...

In Lisa Jewell’s latest brilliant "bone-chilling suspense" (People) no one is who they seem—and everyone is hiding something.

Who has been murdered—and who would have wanted one of their neighbors dead? As "Jewell teases out her twisty plot at just the right pace" (Booklist, starred review), you will be kept guessing until the startling revelation on the very last page. (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Birth—July 19, 1968
Where—London, England, UK
Education—Epsom School of Art & Design
Awards—Melissa Nathan Award For Comedy Romance
Currently—lives in London, England


Lisa Jewell is a British author of popular fiction. Her books number some 15, including most recently The House We Grew Up In (2013), The Third Wife (2014), The Girls in the Garden (U.S. title of 2016), I found You (2016), and Watching You (2018).

She was educated at St. Michael's Catholic Grammar School in Finchley, north London, leaving school after one day in the sixth form to do an art foundation course at Barnet College followed by a diploma in fashion illustration at Epsom School of Art & Design.

She worked in fashion retail for several years, namely Warehouse and Thomas Pink.

After being made redundant, Jewell accepted a challenge from her friend to write three chapters of a novel in exchange for dinner at her favourite restaurant. Those three chapters were eventually developed into Jewell's debut novel Ralph's Party, which then became the UK's bestselling debut novel in 1999.

Jewell is one of the most popular authors writing in the UK today, and in 2008 was awarded the Melissa Nathan Award For Comedy Romance for her novel 31 Dream Street.

She currently lives in Swiss Cottage, London with her husband Jascha and two daughters. (From Wikipedia. Retrieved 6/22/2016.)



Book Reviews
[A] spine-tingling thriller… Lisa Jewell’s gripping novel Watching You unravels a tangled web of rumors—and a shocking twist.
Real Simple


Big Little Lies-esque small town drama with stakes as high as Amy from Gone Girl's IQ, Lisa Jewell's latest thriller is not to be missed.
InStyle


This suspense is going to have you turning the pages all night long.
Bustle


Eerie and bone-chilling…this page turner surprises and stuns.
Woman's World Magazine


[T]he people watching Tom… [are] the novel’s weakest link, since their respective obsessions remain baffling and at times border on the tedious. That said, prepare to be blindsided…. Jewell does a masterly job of maintaining suspense.
Publishers Weekly


(Starred Review)The novel… alternates between the past leading up to the killing and the ongoing police investigation.… Jewell weaves a taut multiperspective, domestic/community suspense story that is sure to please fans of Ruth Ware and A.J. Finn. —Susan Moritz, Silver Spring, MD
Library Journal


(Starred Review) Jewell teases out her twisty plot at just the right pace, leaving readers on the edge of their seats.… Her multilayered characters are sheer perfection, and even the most astute thriller reader won’t see where everything is going until the final threads are unknotted.
Booklist


Jewell adeptly weaves together a complex array of characters… and deftly maintains its intensity and brisk pace.… [A] third-person narration allows her to explore each family's anxieties and… makes the ending all the more unsettling.… Engrossing and haunting.
Kirkus Reviews



Discussion Questions
1. Watching You begins with a diary excerpt from 1996. How does this passage set the tone for the novel? Now that you’ve finished reading, who do you think wrote it?

2. Lisa Jewell includes a number of red herrings that lead the reader to one suspicion and then another. What were some of the red herrings you noticed in the book? Did you fall for them?

3. Early on, we see how Freddie thinks about his surveillance "project": "Freddie was not a voyeur. Voyeurism was a form of control.… He watched girls in order to understand them. He was just trying to work it all out" (p. 38). Do you agree that his intent and motivation in spying is what’s most important? And in our privacy-deprived world (where our information, photos, and even thoughts are often available online), what kind of watching is too much? How do we define an invasion of privacy?

4. Jenna Tripp describes the chat rooms her mother frequents as somewhere "she could go to have her craziness validated" (p. 130). Many people use online communities to form connections and feel less isolated, particularly if they feel misunderstood by those around them. Yet Jenna observes that her mother’s delusions are being exacerbated by talking to people with similar issues. Discuss what makes an insular community (like a chat room) supportive or detrimental. Can it be both?

5. Freddie recollects that his parents taught him not to embrace the diagnosis his doctors had given him because he would "always be so much more than a label" (p. 234). Do you think claiming an identity label, like the one Freddie eventually reclaims, is limiting? Why, or why not?

6. On page 239, Freddie tells Jenna about how his mother accommodates all of his father’s desires, from the food in the house to the temperature on the thermostat. Looking back at this passage with what you now know about their relationship, do you see this in a different light? Why do you think Nicola went to these lengths to bend to Tom’s wishes?

7. The complexities of the marital abuse described in Watching You undermine some of the assumptions we often make about what gives someone power in a relationship. What power dynamics do we see in the various marriages in the novel? How do these fit or defy our expectations?

8. A cult of personality builds around Tom Fitzwilliam, although once disillusioned, Joey wonders what she saw in him. What do you think enables someone to have such a widespread draw? Have you known anyone who amassed that type of adoration in your own life? Are there other examples from popular culture who Tom reminded you of?

9. Considering what the men in her life have told her, Joey wonders if, "while most women spent their lives searching for the perfect man, men sat around waiting to be chosen and then made the best of it" (p. 313). Do you think this is true? Why, or why not?

10. While it is normal for people, and particularly for schoolgirls, to get crushes on someone they shouldn’t become involved with, in Watching You some of these "crushes" appear to be unhealthy. Where is the line between infatuation and obsession? Who are some characters that you think fell on the infatuation side of that line? Who became dangerously obsessed? Looking at examples, what do you think distinguishes them?
(Questions issued by the publisher.)

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