Thursday 14 September 2023

None Of This Is True by Lisa Jewell #NoneOfThisIsTrue @lisajewelluk @centurybooksuk @najmafinlay #BookReview


Celebrating her 45th birthday at her local pub, podcaster Alix Summer crosses paths with an unassuming woman called Josie Fair. Josie is also celebrating her 45th.

A few days later, they bump into each other again, this time outside Alix's children's school. Josie says she thinks she would be an interesting subject for Alix's podcast. She is, she tells Alix, on the cusp of great changes in her life.

Alix agrees to a trial interview and indeed, Josie's life appears to be strange and complicated. Aix finds her unsettling but can't quite resist the temptation to keep digging.

Slowly Alix starts to realise that Josie has been hiding some very dark secrets, and before she knows it Josie has cajoled her way into Alix's life - and into her home.

Soon Alix begins to wonder who is Josie Fair really? And what has she done?

None Of This Is True by Lisa Jewell was published by Century on 20 July 2023. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

I had deliberately avoided reading any reviews of this book before I picked it up, so went in having no idea of either the plot, or other reader's opinions. It's a fairly large book, my trade paperback has just under 400 pages, but I flew through it in a couple of sittings. It's a pacy and heart pounding read, filled with characters who the reader can never quite trust, and a plot that takes you on a journey of dark corners and twisty bends a plenty. 

Podcaster Alix Summers is celebrating her 45th birthday in a local gastro pub. Also there that evening, and also celebrating the same birthday is Josie Fair. They are birthday twins. 

Their birthdate and place of birth is the only thing that they have in common. Alix's podcast is popular, she's married to a wealthy man, she has a beautiful house and two perfect children. Josie, on the other hand is married to a much older man, her children are now adults and she has very little focus on where her life could go. 

Josie engineers another meeting with Alix, later that week and persuades her to meet, to discuss an idea that she has for the podcast. 

And so it begins. The podcast interviews are cleverly inserted into the narrative, along with extracts from a Netflix series of the podcast. Josie begins to tell her life story, but the style of the narrative means that the reader is aware that there are huge events yet to come. We just don't know what they are. 

Josie's life appears to have been one of horror. Neglected by her own mother and then groomed by the much older Walter, who becomes her husband, and then there's the daughter who has been missing since she was sixteen, and the older daughter who never leaves her bedroom. It's all very shocking, and before Alix is quite aware, she's in the thick of it all. 

This is such an amazing ride of a story. I felt real terror at times. There were characters that I despised, and then ..... I heard another side of the story ..... and then I changed my mind. However, what Jewell has done so cleverly is leave the reader wondering just how much of this is true?  Which of the characters are lying? Who is telling the truth?  It's clever and compelling and I was glued to the pages. 

There are some very dark issues dealt with, and some readers may struggle with the portrayal of some of them, however, for me, this just added to whole mysterious tension of the story. 

Highly recommended. 

LISA JEWELL was born in London in 1968.

Her first novel, Ralph's Party, was the best- selling debut novel of 1999. Since then she has written another eighteen novels, most recently a number of dark psychological thrillers, including The Girls, Then She Was Gone and The Family Upstairs (all of which were Richard & Judy Book Club picks).

Lisa is a New York Times and Sunday Times number one bestselling author who has been published worldwide in over twenty-five languages. She lives in north London with her husband and two daughters. 

X @lisajewelluk

Instagram @lisajewelluk

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