Before I Met You- a review



Before I Met You

by Lisa Jewel

published by Century



After her grandmother Arlette’s death, Betty is finally ready to begin her life. She had forfeited university, parties, boyfriends, summer jobs—all the usual preoccupations of a woman her age—in order to care for Arlette in their dilapidated, albeit charming home on the English island of Guernsey. Her will included a beneficiary unknown to Betty and her family, a woman named Clara Pickle who presumably could be found at a London address. Now, having landed on a rather shabby street corner in ’90s Soho, Betty is determined to find the mysterious Clara. She’s ready for whatever life has to throw her way. Or so she thinks . . .

In 1920s bohemian London, Arlette De La Mare is starting her new life in a time of postwar change. Beautiful and charismatic, she is soon drawn into the hedonistic world of the Bright Young People. But two years after her arrival in London, tragedy strikes and she flees back to her childhood home and remains there for the rest of her life.

As Betty navigates the ups and downs of city life and begins working as a nanny for a rock star tabloid magnet, her search for Clara leads her to a man—a stranger to Betty, but someone who meant the world to her grandmother. Will the secrets of Arlette’s past help Betty find her own way to happiness in the present?

A rich detective story and a captivating look at London then and now,Before I Met You is an unforgettable novel about two very different women, separated by seventy years, but united by big hearts and even bigger dreams (from Goodreads)

My review

This book started off real well for me.  I loved the premise- finally moving out on one’s own, with a sort of “quest”.  I very much enjoyed how Betty tracked down the mysterious beneficiary, and the flashbacks to Arlette’s story.  I loved the descriptions of life in 1920s London, the changing of norms, the freedoms, and the music.  The part of the book that didn’t work for me was with Betty herself.  It was a little too predictable, moving next door to a rock star, and all that transpired there (do not want to give away too much).  I also felt Betty’s character was not as developed as others, especially Arlette’s.  I liked the secondary characters a lot and was hoping they would develop more also.

This was a fun read, and I would recommend it especially to those that enjoy the Jazz Age.


3 out of 5



Lisa Jewell (born 19th July 1968, Middlesex, London) is a popular British author of chick lit fiction. Her books include Ralph’s Party, Thirtynothing and most recently 31 Dream Street. She lives in Swiss Cottage, London with her husband Jascha and daughters Amelie Mae (born 2003) and Evie Scarlett (born 2007).
(from  Goodreads)

The Perfume Collector-She Reads’ August Book Club


the perfume collector

The Perfume Collector

by Kathleen Tessaro

published by Harper


An inheritance from a mysterious stranger . . .
An abandoned perfume shop on the Left Bank of Paris . . .
And three exquisite perfumes that hold a memory . . . and a secret

London, 1955: Grace Monroe is a fortunate young woman. Despite her sheltered upbringing in Oxford, her recent marriage has thrust her into the heart of London’s most refined and ambitious social circles. However, playing the role of the sophisticated socialite her husband would like her to be doesn’t come easily to her—and perhaps never will.

Then one evening a letter arrives from France that will change everything. Grace has received an inheritance. There’s only one problem: she has never heard of her benefactor, the mysterious Eva d’Orsey.

So begins a journey that takes Grace to Paris in search of Eva. There, in a long-abandoned perfume shop on the Left Bank, she discovers the seductive world of perfumers and their muses, and a surprising, complex love story. Told by invoking the three distinctive perfumes she inspired, Eva d’Orsey’s story weaves through the decades, from 1920s New York to Monte Carlo, Paris, and London.

But these three perfumes hold secrets. And as Eva’s past and Grace’s future intersect, Grace realizes she must choose between the life she thinks she should live and the person she is truly meant to be.

Illuminating the lives and challenging times of two fascinating women,The Perfume Collector weaves a haunting, imaginative, and beautifully written tale filled with passion and possibility, heartbreak and hope.

(from Goodreads)

My Review

I was very excited to start reading this book and I was definitely not disappointed!  The author has given her readers a beautifully written work of historical fiction.

This novel intertwines the stories of Grace Munroe, a young british socialite in the 1950’s and of the mysterious Eva D’Orsey, who has made Grace her sole heir.  When Grace is informed that Eva, a woman she has never heard of before, has passed away and left her entire estate to Grace, she travels from London to Paris, to learn more about her.

The author takes us through the lives of these to wonderful characters, bringing the setting of New York in the 1920’s and Paris in the 1950’s to life.  She gives us a wonderful cast of characters, especially Eva and Grace.

As part of Eva’s story, we learn about the art of perfume making.  I found this part so interesting.  I would love to have a perfume that was made especially for me-that takes my nature and personality  into account.  While I was in Bermuda last month, we happened upon a small perfumery, called Lili Bermuda.  They make only a handful of perfumes and they take you through each perfume and explain what the major factor is in the scent.  Being the best husband in the entire world, John bought me the one I loved called Fresh Water.  I love it, and I was reminded of that special feeling while I read this book.

I would definitely recommend The Perfume Collector!

Please head over to She Reads and see some of the other wonderful reviews of The Perfume Collector @


4.5 out of 5

English: Perfume urn in the Caron shop in Pari...

English: Perfume urn in the Caron shop in Paris, France. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)