Before I Met You

Before I Met You

A Novel

eBook - 2013
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After her grandmother Arlette's death, Betty is finally ready to begin her life. She had forfeited university, parties, boyfriends, summer jobs-- all the usual preoccupations of a woman her age-- in order to care for Arlette in their dilapidated, albeit charming home on the English island of Guernsey. Her will included a beneficiary unknown to Betty and her family, a woman named Clara Pickle who presumably could be found at a London address. Now, having landed on a rather shabby street corner in '90s Soho, Betty is determined to find the mysterious Clara. She's ready for whatever life has to throw her way. Or so she thinks ... In 1920s bohemian London, Arlette De La Mare is starting her new life in a time of postwar change. Beautiful and charismatic, she is soon drawn into the hedonistic world of the Bright Young People. But two years after her arrival in London, tragedy strikes and she flees back to her childhood home and remains there for the rest of her life. As Betty navigates the ups and downs of city life and begins working as a nanny for a rock star tabloid magnet, her search for Clara leads her to a man-- a stranger to Betty, but someone who meant the world to her grandmother. Will the secrets of Arlette's past help Betty find her own way to happiness in the present? A rich detective story and a captivating look at London then and now, Before I Met You is an unforgettable novel about two very different women, separated by seventy years, but united by big hearts and even bigger dreams.
Publisher: [Place of publication not identified] : Atria Books, 2013
ISBN: 9781476702957
1476702950
Characteristics: 1 online resource (448 pages)

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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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