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Jules Bright’s happy family life was cruelly shattered by the actions of one young woman. Jules lost everything she held most dear. And now the perpetrator is being released from prison after serving a mere three years for her heinous crimes – and she’s coming back to live in her old neighbourhood.
This, in a nutshell, is the whole plot of The Girl Who Came Back. The reader learns, through flashbacks, just how happy Jules and her family were until Amelia Quentin came into their lives. And we discover, piece by painful piece, what Amelia did to utterly destroy that happiness.
Things are pretty black and white in the world Susan Lewis creates. Jules and her husband are, with one exceptional misstep, a perfectly happy married couple, blissfully living out their idyllic lives running a renovated 600-year-old pub on the coast of south-west England. Daisy, their only child is a perfectly delightful angel, with ‘her bouncy blonde curls and captivating violet-blue eyes’, doted on by all in the village. ‘Fortune has bestowed a dazzling smile on Jules and Kian…’. With a set-up like that, the reader knows that calamity cannot be too far away.
And calamity’s name is Amelia Quentin. This Amelia is much much naughtier than Enid Blyton’s Amelia Jane. Amelia is purely evil without any redeeming qualities whatsoever. From the moment we first meet her as a spoiled, petulant, unattractive child, Amelia is the dark cloud hanging over Jules’ happiness. And now she’s back. How will Jules cope, knowing that the woman who destroyed her family is back in town and seemingly having a grand ol’ time on her release from prison?
I understand that at least one of the minor characters in The Girl Who Came Back has featured in another of Susan Lewis’ books, Behind Closed Doors. I am sure her faithful readers will find this a satisfying read. However, I am not counting myself among them. I cannot rate this book as being more than an average read. Although the whodunit aspect is apparent from the blurb on the back cover, I found that the “what she did” took an agonisingly long time to unravel through frustrating flashbacks between past and present. And the “why she did it” is never fully explored beyond Amelia simply being a bad egg. The characters were too wholly good or wholly bad to be more than two dimensional, despite the laborious detail Lewis goes into in describing everything about them.
Susan Lewis is a best-selling and very prolific author. Fans of her work will no doubt be eager to add this latest novel to their To Read lists.
Reviewed by Tiffany Matsis
The Girl Who Came Back
by Susan Lewis
Published by Century