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London, 1920. Arlette works in Liberty by day, and by night is caught up in a glamorous whirl of parties, clubs, cocktails and jazz. But when tragedy strikes she flees the city, never to return.
Over half a century later, in the grungy mid-90s, her granddaughter Betty arrives in London.
She can't wait to begin her new life. But before she can do so, she must find the mysterious woman named in her grandmother's will.
What she doesn't know is that her search will uncover the heart-breaking secret that changed her grandmother's life, and might also change hers forever . . .
In Jewell's (After the Party) novel, Betty Dean spent her childhood on the Channel Island of Guernsey dreaming of bigger and better things in London, but she stayed there well into her 20s to care for her ailing grandmother, Arlette. When Arlette dies, Betty's family discovers that she has left a large sum of money to a woman named Clara Pickle at a London address. Nobody in the family has heard of Clara, and what's more, Arlette always claimed to hate the big city. Naturally, Betty jumps at the chance go to London in search of Clara. Though she ends up paying too much for her Soho flat and working a menial job, Betty feels like her life is finally beginning. She strikes up a friendship with rock legend Dom Jones who just happens to be her neighbor and gets a gig babysitting his children to supplement her income. As clues lead her closer to the mysterious Clara Pickle, Betty starts to uncover a chapter of proper, taciturn Arlette's life that she never imagined possible complete with a tragic love story. Told in chapters that alternate between 1919 21 and 1995, Jewell unfolds each detail of Arlette's secret past with impeccable timing. Although the final reveal is a little convoluted, Arlette's tragedy juxtaposed with Betty's journey to maturity and stability takes readers to emotional highs and lows alike.