Book Title:
Watching You
Book Author:
Lisa Jewell
Page Count:
Publishing Date:
December 26th, 2018
Atria Books
Date Read:
February 2nd, 2020


Melville Heights is one of the nicest neighbourhoods in Bristol, England; home to doctors and lawyers and old-money academics. It’s not the sort of place where people are brutally murdered in their own kitchens. But it is the sort of place where everyone has a secret. And everyone is watching you.

As the headmaster credited with turning around the local school, Tom Fitzwilliam is beloved by one and all—including Joey Mullen, his new neighbor, who quickly develops an intense infatuation with this thoroughly charming yet unavailable man. Joey thinks her crush is a secret, but Tom’s teenaged son Freddie—a prodigy with aspirations of becoming a spy for MI5—excels in observing people and has witnessed Joey behaving strangely around his father.

One of Tom’s students, Jenna Tripp, also lives on the same street, and she’s not convinced her teacher is as squeaky clean as he seems. For one thing, he has taken a particular liking to her best friend and fellow classmate, and Jenna’s mother—whose mental health has admittedly been deteriorating in recent years—is convinced that Mr. Fitzwilliam is stalking her.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier, a schoolgirl writes in her diary, charting her doomed obsession with a handsome young English teacher named Mr. Fitzwilliam…

My Review

I’ve been reading a lot of Lisa Jewell books lately – it all started when I chose The Family Upstairs as my Book of the Month, and I’ve been excitedly going through her books, because I loved that one so much.

Watching You was a book that I picked up at my local library. It was one that I had thought about hitting the “Buy Now” button on on Amazon for quite some time, but for some reason I just figured I’d check the library for it first. I’m glad I did, too, because as much as I enjoyed it, I don’t think that it’s a book that I would be reading again, unlike The Family Upstairs, which I would love to read again soon.

Unlike The Family Upstairs, I had an easy time figuring out the mystery that the characters were involved in – it was kind of obvious from about the 25% mark, but I’m going to be very careful so that I don’t spoil it for anyone else who may want to read it. I’m pretty good when it comes to figuring out mysteries in books, because I read so many of them that they kind of get predictable after a while. So when I meet a twist that I didn’t guess, it makes the book an instant love for me. I wish it had been the case in this book, because the rest of it was well written and really enjoyable.

Tom Fitzwilliam is a brilliant teacher who touches the lives of all those in the troubled schools that he works at. His family has moved around several times in the past few years – him, his younger wife, and his his teenage son. He is currently teaching at a private school, where one of his teenage students have developed an immense crush on him. Not only that, but his married neighbor has also developed feelings for him. It seems that no matter where Tom Fitzwilliam he goes, he has girls and women falling for him.

Tom’s son, Freddie, likes to watch the neighborhood. He knows all the people around, and he finds himself drawn to the ladies of the neighborhood – especially Romola, a new girl who has moved in recently. He is pretty much her stalker, and it’s creepy – he buys her clothing and follows her around, determined to get her to notice him.

“But what do you do with an unattainable crush once it’s yours to keep? What does it become? Should there perhaps be a word to describe it? Because that’s the thing with getting what you want: all that yearning and dreaming and fantasizing leaves you with a great big hole that can only be filled with more yearning and dreaming and fantasizing.”

Jenna, the best friend of Bess (the girl who she believes is having a fling with Tom Fitzwilliam), and the daughter of her mother, who has mental health issues, leads a difficult life. She has memories or she and her mother on vacation, where she saw Tom Fitzwilliam and vividly remembers a woman attacking him while they waited for the coach.

Who was this woman? And why was she yelling and hitting him?

Meanwhile, we get some insight into a girl who may have been falling in love with her teacher many years ago…

The story is told from multiple points of view – there are several different characters who are telling the story, which is nice. I do wish that there was a small chapter heading or something that told who the character narrating that chapter was going to be, but it didn’t, so for the most part you have to guess. Many of the characters also sound alike, so I felt like there wasn’t nearly enough distinction between them.

In between the chapters, there are snippets of police interviews with several of the characters. Through these, as well as the story, we are able to see how their lives all intertwine and how each decision that is made, how each word that is spoken, all leads to the nail-biting ending of this mystery.

Watching You was a really good read – fast-paced and full of twists, but I felt like many of them were predictable. It definitely kept me on the edge of my seat, though, waiting to see how everything came together to make that ending. It was a great thriller, especially for those who are new to Lisa Jewell.

4 stars
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