“Readers of Liane Moriarty, Paula Hawkins, and Ruth Ware will love.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“Jewell’s novel explores the space between going missing and being lost….how the plots intersect and finally collide is one of the great thrills of reading Jewell’s book. She ratchets up the tension masterfully, and her writing is lively.” —The New York Times
In the windswept British seaside town of Ridinghouse Bay, single mom Alice Lake finds a man sitting on a beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, and no idea how he got there. Against her better judgment, she invites him inside.
Meanwhile, in a suburb of London, newlywed Lily Monrose grows anxious when her husband fails to return home from work one night. Soon, she receives even worse news: according to the police, the man she married never even existed.
Twenty-three years earlier, Gray and Kirsty Ross are teenagers on a summer holiday with their parents. The annual trip to Ridinghouse Bay is uneventful, until an enigmatic young man starts paying extra attention to Kirsty. Something about him makes Gray uncomfortable—and it’s not just because he’s a protective older brother.
Who is the man on the beach? Where is Lily’s missing husband? And what ever happened to the man who made such a lasting and disturbing impression on Gray?
“A mystery with substance” (Kirkus Reviews), I Found You is a delicious collision course of a novel, filled with the believable characters, stunning writing, and “surprising revelations all the way up to the ending” (Booklist) that make the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone Lisa Jewell so beloved by audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.
This reading group guide for I Found You includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
In a windswept British seaside town, single mom Alice Lake finds a man sitting on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, and no idea how he got there. Against her better judgment, she invites him inside.
Meanwhile, in a suburb of London, twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.
Twenty-three years earlier, Gray and Kirsty are teenagers on a summer holiday with their parents. Their annual trip to the quaint seaside town is passing by uneventfully, until an enigmatic young man starts paying extra attention to Kirsty. Something about him makes Gray uncomfortable—and it’s not just that he’s playing the role of protective older brother.
Two decades of secrets, a missing husband, and a man with no memory . . .
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. Before they ever speak, Gray has a decidedly negative impression of Mark. His family chalks it up to jealousy and possessiveness. How big a role do you think those biases played in shaping Gray’s apprehension around Mark? Is it possible to determine when you should trust your instincts and when you are being unfairly prejudicial? How might you tell the difference?
2. Mark reveals his jealousy of Gray and Kirsty when he says “you live in your lovely, cozy little mummy-daddy-brother-sister bubble” (page 201). Did it surprise you that Gray’s envy and resentment was reciprocated? Considering what we learn about Mark’s family background, did you feel sympathy for him? Why, or why not?
3. Gray notes that there were plenty of girls on the beach who were, by appearances, a better match for Mark, and who weren’t accompanied by their families. What do you think initially attracted Mark to Kirsty? Why was his attention drawn to her rather than other women on the beach? Discuss.
4. When asked about how Carl treated her, Lily says “He worshipped me . . . it’s more than love. It’s obsession” (page 205). Later, he writes her a letter saying “I love you more than I have ever loved anyone or anything in my whole stupid life” (page 326). Do you believe he loved her? Why or why not?
5. After discovering what Frank did before he lost his memory, Alice chooses to forgive him. Would you have forgiven him if you were in her position?
6. Both Lily and Alice are attracted to men who have done terrible things in their pasts, and feel on some level they shouldn’t love anymore. In what ways do these two loves parallel each other? In what ways are they portrayed differently from each other? Compare and contrast, discussing the reasons behind these similarities and differences.
7. When Lily reports her husband’s disappearance to the police, she pretends to understand what a policewoman is saying because “she’s already sure this woman thinks she is an idiot” (page 39). Discuss with your group examples from your own life in which you saw or experienced someone making assumptions about intelligence as a result of cultural or language barriers. Have you ever inadvertently made similar assumptions yourself?
8. In response to Alice offering a lost stranger a jacket, her friend Derry tells her not to get involved. Repeatedly throughout the novel, various characters question whether Alice’s generosity is advisable, or if she is unwisely endangering her family. Did you see her actions as kind, or foolish? If the stranger had turned out to be Lily’s missing husband, would that have changed your ultimate opinion of Alice? Where would you draw the line between being charitable and leaving yourself overly vulnerable?
9. When Frank is trying to remember who he is, some of his memories are more accessible than others. For example, he is unable to remember to cut a bagel in half before toasting it, but he quickly rediscovers his ability to draw. Which of your memories or talents do you think would remain or be easily regained if you forgot who you were?
10. Lily unabashedly describes herself as a “very dark person” (page 205). What do you think she means by that? Do you think that is an accurate self-assessment? Do you consider yourself or any of your loved ones dark people?
11. Frank insists that he is not as bad a person as Mark, saying of his actions “It makes me wrong, but it doesn’t make me a monster” (page 302). Do you agree with this statement? Are there circumstances in which revenge—even violence— is justified? If so, where do you think the line should be drawn? How do you differentiate between justification and simply the motive for a crime?
12. Mark’s aunt says of his parents “They thought they could heal all the wounds and make up for all the hurt and unfortunately they were wrong. It was hardwired” (page 307). Do you agree that there is a point in a child’s life when it is too late to heal the effects of trauma, or to rehabilitate selfish and destructive behavior? Whether you agree or disagree, what do you think Mark’s family could have done differently to help?
13. One of the major themes I Found You contends with is how our memories shape us as people. Are there aspects of our personalities that are innate? Do our memories determine who we are attracted to, as Frank wonders when he questions whether he would have been attracted to Alice if he met her before his fugue state? Are some personal attributes more or less impacted by our experiences than others? Discuss.
Enhance Your Book Club
1. “Frank” suffers from a type of amnesia referred to as dissociative amnesia. Real life cases of amnesia are rare, but they do occur. As a group, consider learning about some of them and the mystery and suspicion surrounding this phenomenon. For example, you could read news articles about “Benjamin Kyle,” whose true identity was discovered in 2015 using DNA testing after eleven years of investigating. Or, you could listen to the story of Jeff Ingram on NPR’s StoryCorps series at NPR.org/2012/12/14/167187734/for-man-with-amnesia-love-repeats-itself.
2. Write a scene from the perspective of Mark, either from his time with Gray and Kirsty, or later in life with his Aunt Kitty or with Lily. How does he see himself? Does he care about the women in his life? What are his motivations? Does he attribute any of his behavior to the childhood abuse he suffered? If you’re choosing to write from a later perspective—how has he changed since his teenage years? Does he believe his own lies? Consider any of these questions, and share your writing with your reading group.
3. Check out more of Lisa Jewell’s books, such as The Girls in the Garden and The House We Grew Up In. To find out more about Lisa, visit www.facebook.com/LisaJewellofficial, or follow her on twitter @lisajewelluk.
Lisa Jewell is the internationally bestselling author of eighteen novels, including the New York Times bestseller Then She Was Gone, as well as I Found You, The Girls in the Garden, and The House We Grew Up In. In total, her novels have sold more than two million copies across the English-speaking world and her work has also been translated into sixteen languages so far. Lisa lives in London with her husband and their two daughters. Connect with her on Twitter @LisaJewellUK and on Facebook @LisaJewellOfficial.
“Lisa Jewell is a brilliant storyteller, creating suspenseful yet believable novels time and again. I Found You is no exception—filled with intriguing characters connected in startling ways. Quickly paced yet delicately nuanced, this novel is sure to appeal to fans of Big Little Lies and The Woman in Cabin 10.”
– Shelf Awareness (starred review)
"Jewell is a wonderful storyteller. Her characters are believable, her writing is strong and poetic, and her narrative is infused with just enough intrigue to keep the pages turning. Readers of Liane Moriarty, Paula Hawkins, and Ruth Ware will love."
– Library Journal (starred review)
“How [the] plots intersect and finally collide is one of the great thrills of reading Jewell’s book. She ratchets up the tension masterfully, and her writing is lively.”
– New York Times Book Review
“The structure keeps the suspense level high, and Jewell manages surprising revelations all the way up to the ending. The mix of women’s fiction and suspense—plus a no-nonsense 40-something heroine at the heart of the story—makes this a good fit for fans of Liane Moriarty.”
“Riveting…numerous twists avoid predictability, and the novel is well-paced as it weaves three narratives together. Dark and moody, this is a mystery with substance.”
– Kirkus Reviews
"One word: wow! This latest offering from Jewell starts off strong and keeps readers riveted until the very last word…this book is ‘unreliable narrator’ at its best!"
– RT Book Reviews
"Jewell keeps the reader guessing."
– New York Post, Required Reading column
“Jewell is a genuinely original and skilled novelist with an impressive flair for deftly crafted narratives and surprising plot development.”
– Midwest Book Review
“There will be tendencies to compare this book to The Girl On The Train and its various imitators, but don’t be fooled: This is better than those. Jewell’s forte is the good old-fashioned novel of psychological suspense, the kind that keeps you reading deep into the night.”
– The Globe and Mail
"Crackling suspense...Among the year’s best domestic thrillers."
– Toronto Star
Praise for The Girls in the Garden:
“Lisa Jewell’s characters are so real that I finish every book half-expecting to bump into one of them. Modern, complex, intuitive, she just goes from strength to strength.”
– Jojo Moyes, author of After You
“Jewell expertly builds suspense by piling up domestic misunderstandings and more plot twists than an SVU episode. It’s a page-turner for readers who like beach reads on the dark side.”
“Full of suspense yet emotionally grounded…Fans of Liane Moriarty, Paula Hawkins, and Carla Buckley will adore this peek inside a gated community that truly takes care of its own, no matter the consequences.”
– Booklist (starred review)
“Rich characterization and intricate plot development are combined with mid-chapter cliffhangers that cut from one character’s point of view to the next, resulting in a riveting pace. Vivid descriptions of the bucolic park contrast with the evil lurking around the themes of teenage sexuality, perversion, peer pressure, and the desire for a complete family. Jewell adeptly creates a pervasive atmosphere of unease in this well-spun narrative.”
– Publishers Weekly (starred review)
One of New York Post’s “Buzziest Books to Bring to the Beach”
“Jewell expertly mines the relationships of her compelling, multilayered characters for a perfect pack-for-vacation read.”
– Fort-Worth Star Telegram
“Jewell crafts another page-turner that keeps the suspense flowing…[and] sharply evades the truth while bouncing the story among multiple characters’ perspectives. Recommended for lovers of mysteries built on the complexities of family and the dismantling of the idea that being part of a community keeps us safe.”
– Library Journal
“An intoxicating, spellbinding read that will make readers entranced with Lisa Jewell’s wicked and gorgeous prose…raw, intense, gritty, dark and suspenseful. If you are looking for a looking for a psychological thriller that will unfold secrets and truths in a shocking manner, this book is for you.”
– Manhattan Book Review
“Faithful to the thriller genre, Jewell makes liberal use of red herrings and plot twists… The answer to the whodunit is a sly – and satisfying – surprise.”