Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The Truth About Melody Browne - Lisa Jewell

photo courtesy:goodreads.com
Jewell's Melody is very memorable indeed.

I like Jewell's style, the way she spins out a story from the crux turning it outward until the tapestry is a round, complete, whole.

I avoided reading this book for a long time, for it sounded too depressing. But now I am glad to have read it. Jewell's stories are set in unhappy circumstances but somehow her protagnists walk from the darkness to light and despite facing unsavoury truths in the way, they manage to end in happy-ever-after stories.

While this may sound boringly predicatable or "chick lit" to some, I enjoyed reading it and that too in two sittings! It is easy to see why Jewell books are so eagerly waited for.


Melody Browne has lost her memory, although she is not aware of it. For eighteen years, she has been living a lie and a past that she is not happy about. Then |one day, she goes to a hypnotist's show and then the past comes back to her in fragments. Her mind starts throwing random images and Melody then starts on a journey that takes her to a past that points towards a very different future. Will she be able to reconcile with her past? Is she ready for what it brings in its wake?

What works:
  • Narrative. What a smooth narrative, love her turn of phrase especially the line about parents.
Parents, were the linchpin of normality. Parents, even distracted, slightly ambivalent parents, acted like a strainer through which life got poured. They were there, in essence, to catch the lumpy bits. Without a parent, life felt oblique and directionless. Without a parent, the world was too close for comfort.
  • Characters. Loved Melody as a 5 year old and then 9 year old. Her thoughts and actions are very well conveyed. Makes your heart go out for the girl.
  • Structure: Love the way the story moves out from a critical juncture to the introduction and then forward. It is an interesting style that hooks the reader from the start and then keeps on dangling the reader teasing her to read more till it gets to the end.
  • Plot: Jewell's plots are so bizzare. I remember the one about the hoarder and then about the sperm donor story, they are such weird plots but with her deft handling, it sounded so normal. Even in this story, the thought of a commune sounded preposterous and it is amazing how her characters are so level headed even in the situations she places them in. Actually, it sounds a bit fanciful, but you have no choice but to follow it. Such is her arresting style.
What doesn't:
  • As mentioned, it is hard to image that though all of this happens to Melody, she is rational and raises a sane, well settled kid. But hey, we all like neatly tied in stories even if they are escapist.
  • At times, the story seems to go off on a tangent, but then it gets back on track and the narrative that flits between the past and the present keeps up the suspense and the unravelling of the story very well
A surprisingly good read from Jewell. Recommended.

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