Where to start with...

Where to start reading Lisa Jewell

Lisa Jewell has been writing fiction for 25 years, including romance, domestic suspense and thrillers. Here's where to start with her work.

Lucy Pearson
Lisa Jewell's best books
Photographer credit: Andrew Whitton. Image credit: Victoria Ford/Penguin.

As one of the UK’s most widely-read authors, it’s fair to say that Lisa Jewell is something of a literary heavyweight – and a highly readable one at that. Her books have sold over 10 million copies worldwide, been translated into 29 languages, and hit the big time on both sides of the pond.

Once beloved for her romances, Jewell has since become a household name in crime fiction, with her books frequently on the Sunday Times bestseller list. In her new novel, Breaking the Dark, Jewell pivots once again: this time, exploring the Marvel Universe to tell the story of private investigator and former superhero Jessica Jones as she investigates how a pair of teenage twins have returned from a holiday with unnaturally perfect features.  

Yet to start a love affair with Lisa Jewell? Here’s where we think you should begin…

Published at the turn of the millennium, Ralph’s Party was inspired by Jewell’s own experience as an unemployed secretary in the late 1990s, and was the bestselling debut novel of 1999. An addictively readable romcom, it follows the six residents of 31 Alamanac Road, including the titular Ralph, a starving artist who falls for his housemate. This is the obvious place to start with Jewell’s back catalogue and its heart and humour will give you a taste of what’s to come. 

Thirtynothing (2000)

A charming novel about first loves and second chances, Jewell’s sophomore novel follows Dig and Nadine, best friends since childhood. Still navigating the complexities of adulthood, at “thirtynothing” they’re both searching for something more. When Dig runs into his first love, Delilah, it stirs up old feelings and prompts both friends to re-evaluate their lives and relationships. In Thirtynothing, Jewell captures the essence of nostalgia and the longing for what might have been.

The Family Upstairs offers readers an introduction to the captivating writing style that makes Jewell’s psychological thrillers so addictive. The story begins when Libby inherits a mansion in London, only to discover its dark history involving cults, mysterious deaths, and hidden identities. As the narrative unfolds through multiple perspectives, Jewell masterfully builds suspense and unveils secrets. The Family Upstairs has sold over 1 million copies and counts the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker and Olivia Colman among its fans.

One of Jewell’s finest forays into domestic fiction, The Truth About Melody Browne is a compulsively readable, evocative tale about identity and healing. Melody lost her memory after a traumatic event at nine years old, and lives a simple, controlled life until a chance encounter triggers forgotten memories. Both poignant and compelling, the book exemplifies Jewell’s talent for blending suspense with heartfelt storytelling.

When Josie meets glamorous podcaster Alix at the pub, the pair strike up an unlikely friendship and Alix agrees to interview Josie for her podcast. But while Josie’s fantastical story makes for great material, it also masks chilling truths about her life and intentions. None of This Is True combines much of what Jewell’s stories are known and loved for: an atmosphere of suspense and unease, twisted relationships, and buried secrets. The novel was crowned Crime Novel of the Year at the 2024 British Book Awards, and there’s a potential Netflix adaptation in the works.

This book has been cited as Jewell’s darkest thriller. It gained worldwide fame during lockdown and sold 2 million copies in the States, cementing Jewell as the go-to in crime fiction for readers on both sides of the Atlantic. The addictive read follows Laurel, whose teenage daughter Ellie disappeared 10 years ago. When Laurel meets her boyfriend’s daughter, she is shocked to discover that the young girl is the spitting image of Ellie. Will she finally find out what happened to her daughter?

This mystery focuses on Tallulah, a young mother who vanishes after a night out, leaving behind a baby, a bewildered boyfriend and a heartbroken mother. As the narrative shifts between past and present, secrets and lies slowly come to light. A masterclass in the sort of simmering tension Jewell is known and loved for, The Night She Disappeared fuses together well-drawn characters, an intricate plot and a chilling atmosphere and will keep readers on edge until the very last page.

Don't miss Lisa Jewell's new book, Breaking the Dark

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