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The Truth About Melody Browne

A Novel

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About The Book

This “touching, insightful, and gripping story” (Sophie Kinsella, New York Times bestselling author) from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone follows a young woman searching for answers about her mysterious past.

When she was a child, Melody Browne’s house burned down, destroying all her family’s possessions and her memories. Ever since this tragic event, Melody has had no recollection of her life before she was rescued from the flames.

Now in her early thirties, Melody is a single mother, living in the middle of London with her teenaged son. She hasn’t seen her parents since she left home at fifteen, but she has no desire to reconnect until one night, while attending a hypnotist show with a date, she faints. When she comes around, she is suddenly overwhelmed with fragmented memories of her life before that fateful fire.

Slowly, she begins the arduous process of piecing together the real story of her childhood. Her journey takes her up and down the countryside, to seaside towns to the back streets of London, where she meets strangers who seem to love her like their own. But the more answers she uncovers, the more questions she is left with, and Melody can’t help but wonder if she’ll ever know the whole truth about her past.

Filled with “classic storytelling” (Elle) and unforgettable characters that will stay with you long after the final page, The Truth About Melody Browne is “an absolute must-read” (Cosmopolitan, UK).

Excerpt

Prologue Prologue
Melody Browne opened her eyes and saw the moon, a perfect white circle, like a bullet hole shot through the sky. It was fully lit and beamed down upon her, as if she were the star of the show.

She closed her eyes again and smiled. Around her she could hear the rapturous applause of creaking timber, blistering paint, popping windows, a fire engine’s alarm wailing dramatically somewhere in the distance.

“Melody! Melody!” It was her. That woman. Her mother.

“She opened her eyes! Did you see? Just for a second!” Another voice. The man with the bald head. Her father.

Melody breathed in. Her throat and her nose felt like they had been doused in acid; the smoky air burned like fire as it passed down into her lungs. It stuck for a while, halfway to her gullet, like a lit match. She held it there and waited a heartbeat for her body to expel it. But for that tiny moment, lying on the pavement in front of her house, the moon shining down onto her, her thoughts muffled and her parents at her side, she felt suspended somewhere both dark and light, painful and comfortable, a place where her life finally made some sense. She smiled again and then she coughed.

They were smiling at her, her mother and father, smiling with sooty faces and frazzled hair. Her mother put her hand to her hair and stroked it. “Oh thank God!” she cried breathlessly. “Thank God!”

Melody blinked at her and tried to talk, but she had no voice. The fire had taken it. She turned to look at her father. There were tear tracks running through the dirt on his face. He held her hand inside his.

“Don’t try to talk,” he said. His voice was raw and gravelly, but full of tenderness. “We’re here. We’re here.”

In her peripheral vision, Melody could see the strobe of blue lights playing out in the splintered windows of the house. She allowed her mother to pull her into a sitting position and she gazed around her at an altogether unexpected vision. A house, her house, roaring and alive with flames. Crowds of people, huddled together in dressing gowns and pajamas, watching the fire as though it were a Guy Fawkes Night offering. Two big red engines drawing up in the middle of the street, men in yellow helmets unfurling thick hosepipes and rushing toward them, and the moon still hanging there, fat and bright and oblivious.

She got to her feet and felt her knees trembling precariously beneath her.

“She was unconscious for a while,” she heard her mother saying to somebody. “Out cold for about five minutes.”

Somebody took her elbow and moved her gently toward the bright light of an ambulance. She was wrapped in a blanket and fed oxygen through a strange-smelling plastic mask. Her eyes were riveted by the mayhem around her. Slowly reality seeped through the layers of smoke and chaos and something hit her like a thunderbolt.

“My painting!”

“It’s OK,” said her mother. “It’s here. Clive saved it.”

“Where? Where is it?”

“There.” She pointed at the curb.

The painting was propped up against the pavement. Melody stared at it, at the Spanish girl with the huge blue eyes and the polka-dot dress. It moved her in some strange, unknowable way. It soothed her and reassured her like it had always done, ever since she was a small girl.

“Can you look after it?” she croaked. “Make sure it doesn’t get stolen?”

Her parents glanced at each other, clearly reassured by her preoccupation with a shoddy junk-shop painting.

“We’ll have to take her into hospital,” said a man. “Get her checked over. Just to be on the safe side.”

Her mother nodded.

“I’ll stay here,” said her father. “Keep an eye on things.”

All three of them turned then, as one, to acknowledge the shocking sight of their home disintegrating in front of their very eyes, to ash and rubble.

“That’s my house,” said Melody.

Her parents nodded.

“And you’re my mum and dad.”

They nodded again and pulled her toward them into an embrace.

Melody felt safe there, inside her parents’ arms. She remembered a few moments ago, lying in her bed, a pair of strong arms pulling her, carrying her through the roasting house, toward the fresh air. And that was all she could remember. Her father saving her life. The moon staring down at her. The Spanish girl in the painting telling her that everything was going to be all right.

She lay down on the crisp white sheets of the emergency bed and watched as the doors were pulled shut. The noise, the lights, the crackle of destruction all faded away and the ambulance took her to hospital.

About The Author

Photograph (c) Andrew Whitton

Lisa Jewell is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of nineteen novels, including The Family Upstairs and Then She Was Gone, as well as Invisible Girl and Watching You. Her novels have sold over 10 million copies internationally, and her work has also been translated into twenty-nine languages. Connect with her on Twitter @LisaJewellUK, on Instagram @LisaJewellUK, and on Facebook @LisaJewellOfficial.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (April 5, 2022)
  • Length: 304 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982129385

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Raves and Reviews

“Lisa Jewell’s writing is like a big warm hug and this book is a touching, insightful and gripping story which I simply couldn’t put down.” —SOPHIE KINSELLA

“Full of heart and humour, this will move you to tears. An absolute must-read.” —Cosmopolitan UK

“Classic storytelling.” —Elle

“What is revealed is a network of rewardingly complex characters, a dramatic, suspense-filled explanation of how [Melody] ended up where she did, and a family tragedy that is profoundly moving.” —Telegraph

“A refreshing departure from the usual girl-in-search-of-boy template… Jewell has a convincing eye for detail, and throws in a roller-coaster-worth of attention-grabbing twists and turns.” —Guardian

“Sincere and engaging with a great plot and believable characters.” —Daily Mail

“Moving and dark.” —The Times Summer Reading Selection

“This will make you laugh, cry—then tell all your friends about it.” —Daily Record

Praise for Watching You:
 

Quickly and assuredly, Jewell builds an ecosystem of countervailing suspicions…Tricky, clever, unexpected.”

– New York Times Book Review

A twisty British mystery...Brace yourself as Jewell stacks up the secrets, then lights a long, slow fuse.” 

– People

“Page one intrigued me. Page three hooked me. By page five, I was consumed. This compulsive, propulsive novel is both a seize-you-by-the-throat thriller and a genuinely moving family drama. Stellar.”

– A.J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window

"A twisty whodunit."

– Cosmopolitan

"Big Little Lies-esque small town drama with stakes as high as Amy from Gone Girl's IQ, Lisa Jewell's latest thriller is not to be missed."

– InStyle

"Watching You takes the idea of obsession to chilling heights."

– PopSugar

"This suspense is going to have you turning the pages all night long."

– Bustle

"Stellar domestic drama...Expert misdirection keeps the reader guessing, and the rug-pulled-out-from-beneath-your-feet conclusion—coupled with one final, bonechilling revelation—is stunning. Best not to bet on anyone. A compulsive read guaranteed to please fans of A. J. Finn and Ruth Ware."

– Booklist (starred review)

"Jewell weaves a taut multiperspective, domestic/community suspense story that is sure to please fans of Ruth Ware and A.J. Finn."

– Library Journal (starred review)

"[A] spine-tingling thriller...Lisa Jewell’s gripping novel Watching You unravels a tangled web of rumors—and a shocking twist."

– Real Simple

“Eerie and bone-chilling…this page turner surprises and stuns.” 

– Woman's World Magazine

"A juicy new page-turner."

– Brit+Co

“[A] crafty conundrum…the author smoothly juggles multiple story lines…prepare to be blindsided by the murder victim’s identity, not revealed until late in the game—and an even more stunning final surprise. Jewell does a masterly job of maintaining suspense.”

– Publishers Weekly

“Jewell adeptly weaves together a complex array of characters in her latest thriller. The novel opens with the murder investigation and deftly maintains its intensity and brisk pace...Jewell's use of third-person narration allows her to explore each family's anxieties and sorrows, which ultimately makes this novel's ending all the more unsettling. An engrossing and haunting psychological thriller.”

– Kirkus Reviews

 "A master at unspooling tightly told tales, Jewell specializes in perfectly-pitched thrillers without sacrificing a drop of her characters’ complexities, secrets, and desires, and this latest one is no exception."

– The Seattle Review of Books

"Jewell excels in creating complex characters, building tension and keeping readers in the dark yet riveted until the "Aha!" moments...this thriller unfolds and concludes in a very satisfying way."

– Shelf Awareness

"In her latest mystery, bestselling author Lisa Jewell combines the cloistered charm of a small English village with the curiosity, paranoia and nosy fatalism of Rear Window. Then comes a dose of lust and lies and the sinister pursuit of Fatal Attraction. It’s a thrilling trifecta...With 16 novels to her credit and more twists up her sleeve than a master magician, Jewell is sure to keep you up at night."

– Minneapolis Star Tribune

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