Before I Met You

Before I Met You

A Novel

Book - 2013
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Betty forfeited everything in order to care for her grandmother Arlette in their dilapidated home on the English island of Guernsey. But her will included a beneficiary unknown to her family, a woman named Clara Pickle, at a London address. Flashback to 1920s bohemian London, where Arlette De La Mare is starting her new life in a time of postwar change. Beautiful and charismatic, she is soon drawn into a hedonistic world. But when tragedy strikes, she flees back to her childhood home. Will the secrets of Arlette's past help Betty find her own way to happiness in the present?
In Jazz Age London, a tale of a passionate and forbidden interracial romance, and the unbreakable bond between a bright young woman and her eccentric grandmother, unfolds
Publisher: New York : Atria Paperback, 2013
Edition: First Atria Books trade paperback edition
ISBN: 9781476702940
1476702942
Characteristics: 435 pages ; 21 cm

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Cdnbookworm Nov 09, 2013

This lovely novel had me completely enraptured. Liz moves to the island of Guernsey at the age of ten with her mother, Alison, and stepfather, Jolylon, to live with her stepfather's mother, Arlette, and becomes Betty. Betty is very close to her grandmother, a woman who loves clothes and stylish things. When Arlette has a stroke and the develops Alzheimer's, Betty's parents can't cope and move out, but Betty stays, becoming Arlette's caregiver for several years. Upon Arlette's death, the will mentions a beneficiary none of the family have ever heard of, Clara Pickle, and Betty sets off to London on a search that will take her places she never imagined.
The story goes back and forth between Betty's search for Arlette's story and Clara, and Arlette's story in the years from 1919 to 1921 in London. Arlette's London is a London of fashion, music, parties, art, and love. From Liberty's to jazz clubs, parties with black jazz musicians, sitting for portraits, living a life full of happiness to heartbreak and tragedy, this is a life you won't forget. And Betty too, finds a life in London, from working in a burger joint, to mixing with rock stars, antique dealers, and others looking to make a life for themselves.
This is a story of London, of a particular bubble of time in the years just after World War I, and of learning the stories of those we love. A wonderful story.

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