Talking About ‘The Girls’ with Bibliobeth

The Girls

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!


You live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses.

You’ve known your neighbours for years and you trust them. Implicitly.

You think your children are safe.

But are they really?

Midsummer night: a thirteen-year-old girl is found unconscious in a dark corner of the garden square. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?

Utterly believable characters, a gripping story and a dark secret buried at its core: this is Lisa Jewell at her heart-stopping best.

CHRISSI: Did you have any preconceptions about this author before starting this book?

BETH: Hmm, I don’t think I had any preconceptions but I definitely had expectations. Lisa Jewell is a favourite author of one of my favourite bloggers, Cleopatra Loves Books and I always meant to read one of her books. I was super glad when Richard and Judy picked it as one of their books for Summer 2016 as you know we follow this list religiously and I knew I was going to finally get the opportunity to read her! Now that I have, I can see what Cleo is talking about and I’m going to make it my mission to read her back catalogue… er… eventually!

BETH: How do you think the absence of Pip and Grace’s father affects them in the novel? Does this have any bearings on what happened?

CHRISSI: What an interesting question! I do think that the absence of Pip and Grace’s father affects them in the novel, in very different ways. I feel like they did miss their father but it manifested in different ways. Grace, I believe, was more angry with her father whereas Pip missed him dearly. Her letters to him were adorable and so touching. I’m not so sure about it having any bearings on what happens but it would be interesting, if there was a father figure around, whether certain events would have played out in the same way.

CHRISSI: What do you think the location of the novel in a residential square adds to the novel?

BETH: I think it gives the story as a whole a lot more atmosphere and tension. The characters that we meet all live in very close proximity to each other and the huge gardens that surround the houses are communal. It can be a bit cliquey, and the neighbours that don’t join in with the activities are viewed with a bit of suspicion. It also offers a lot of opportunities for situations to escalate, gossip to spread and tension to rise.

BETH: This is a story about secrets – is it ever better to keep a secret than to share?

CHRISSI:  Ooh, this is a particularly tricky question, especially because of the job I’m in.  As a teacher working with young children we are always taught to be very careful around ‘secrets’ for child protection issues. Unfortunately, when some bad things happen to children they are asked to keep it secret otherwise there will be trouble. It’s an awkward one. When I’ve discussed the topic of secrets with my class, I always say that there are secrets that can be fun e.g. a surprise party, but some secrets can be harmful. So in answer to the question, no- it’s not ever better to keep a secret than to share. It really depends on circumstances. Secrets can hurt people but they can also protect people. Argh. Such a tricky one.

CHRISSI: Discuss the family relationships in this story.

BETH: There are quite a lot of characters to come to grips with in this novel but personally, that never overwhelmed me as the characters were written so well that I felt I knew each one of them individually which helped me connect to both them and the story. I loved the differing dynamics between the families – between parents and children, between the siblings and how the children interacted with each other across the various families. We got a wide range of personality types, parenting styles and plot twists to keep the reader turning the pages. My favourite relationship had to be Claire with her children Pip and Grace and also their absent father whose absence is a story all of its own!

BETH Did you have a favourite character in this novel and why?

CHRISSI: I really liked Pip. I found her incredibly endearing and I thought her notes to her absent father were very endearing!

CHRISSI: Did you find this book predictable in any way?

BETH: No, not really and I’m so glad! I do feel a bit annoyed every time I can predict where a story is going and I love to be surprised and shocked as a reader. I thought I had everything figured out in terms of what happened but I certainly didn’t even though the author leaves tiny little breadcrumb clues through the narrative. The ending also was interesting in that it didn’t finish completely how I wanted but in that way it made it better if that makes any sense?

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Yes! I really enjoyed Lisa Jewell’s writing and I can totally see why Cleo is such a fan. 🙂

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!
CHRISSI: Of course!

Talking About ‘According To Yes’ with Bibliobeth

According to Yes

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!


The Foreign Land of the Very Wealthy – otherwise known as Manhattan’s Upper East Side – has its own rigid code of behaviour. It’s a code strictly adhered to by the Wilder-Bingham family.

Emotional displays – unacceptable.

Unruly behaviour – definitely not welcome.

Fun – no thanks.

This is Glenn Wilder-Bingham’s kingdom. A beautifully displayed impeccably edited fortress of restraint.

So when Rosie Kitto, an eccentric thirty-eight-year-old primary school teacher from England, bounces into their lives with a secret sorrow and a heart as big as the city, nobody realises that she hasn’t read the rule book.

For the Wilder-Bingham family, whose lives begin to unravel thread by thread, the consequences are explosive. Because after a lifetime of saying no, what happens when everyone starts saying . . . yes?

CHRISSI: What were your first thoughts before going into reading this book?

BETH: I was quite excited! I love Dawn French, she’s a bit of a national treasure here in the UK as well as being a very gifted and funny comedienne. And although I have her novel A Tiny Bit Marvellous on my Kindle, because of the huge amount of books I have to read, I haven’t managed to get to it yet. (*hangs head in shame*). So, this was going to be my first experience of Dawn French as an author and I was looking forward to it.

BETH: Did you have a favourite character in this novel. If so, whom and why?

CHRISSI: It’s hard to pick a favourite character if I’m honest. Some of the characters were so ridiculous and I found it hard to connect with them. I think if I had to pick a favourite it would probably be Rosie. I felt like she was full of life and although she sometimes made decisions that I disapproved of, I thoroughly enjoyed following her story. I thought she was a character that’ll divide readers and I like that.

CHRISSI: Rosie aims to change by saying ‘yes’ to life. Discuss the choices she makes in the book.

BETH: When we meet Rosie, she is arriving in New York for the very first time after leaving a situation in the UK that we are not aware what happened for quite a while into the book. She is apprehensive but excited about the new challenges that face her in life and she is determined to live life to the full. What that means for Rosie is saying “Yes,” in situations that she might have previously shied away from and enjoying herself as much as possible while trying to integrate herself into the lives of her new family, the Wider-Binghams, where she is due to work as a nanny for the couple’s grandsons. However, Rosie does not realise that the decisions she makes while living with the very interesting family, will have ramifications for the rest of the life. So perhaps the decisions she ends up making or the situations she finds herself in aren’t necessarily the best ones? Say no more!

BETH: How well do you think Dawn French used humour in this story and could you see past it to the deeper message underneath?

CHRISSI: I thought the humour was used well, but unfortunately Dawn French is seen for being such a funny lady that I think the rating of the book has been rated down because of its more serious moments. It’s not what you expect. It’s nice to read another side to Dawn’s writing. However, the plot was a little strange and OTT for me. I think you expect to laugh a lot, but there was a deeper message in the story- about family and love.

CHRISSI: The Wilder-Binghams are a very ‘buttoned up’ Upper East Side family. How are they changed by Rosie coming into their lives?

BETH: Rosie is like a breath of fresh air for er… some of the Wilder-Binghams at the start of their relationship at least! Her views and attitudes are quite different from what they are used to, especially the matriarch of the family, the stern Glenn Wilder-Bingham who just doesn’t seem to “get” Rosie. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the family, especially the grandsons who end up adoring Rosie and everything she stands for. Before long, certain incidents which I cannot mention have the entire family re-assessing their futures for good. Relationships falter, secrets are told but in the end, they all come out hopefully stronger and happier people for Rosie’s influence.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I’m not sure if I would. I have heard that this book isn’t her best, but I didn’t find it compelling enough to want to read more of Dawn’s work. However, if anyone thinks I should give her writing another try then let me know!

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Yes!

CHRISSI: It’s not for me! – 2.5 stars- I didn’t find the story to be memorable, although others may feel differently!