Before I Met You by Lisa Jewell

This novel by Lisa Jewell is an unusual mixture of the glamorous and the sordid. This is probably unsurprising, because Before I Met You is largely set in Soho, London.  Light holiday reading, it intertwines the stories of Arlette, who worked at Liberty in the early twentieth century, and Betty, who lives in Soho in the late twentieth century.

Betty is only fifteen when she meets Arlette, her mother's boyfriend's mother, in beautiful Guernsey.  She doesn't want to stay there at all but Arlette introduces her to another world of furs and bow-tipped shoes.  Betty loves Arlette so much that she cares for her after she has a stroke and develops Alzheimer's disease.

After her death, Betty decides to live in Soho and look for the mysterious Clara Pickle, a beneficiary of the will.  Here she stays in a fairly down-at-heel area, except for the large house of the famous pop-star nearby.

I enjoyed this book, but sometimes it was hard to decide whether to go on with it.  Be warned that it's not at all politically correct! There's a lot of swearing, which annoyed me a bit. Anti-smokers also might not like it.


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