Through the Lens of Desire

Watching You - Lisa Jewell

Passion, paranoia, and obsession- In her novel Watching You, Lisa Jewell depicts the tragic misunderstandings that can result from their controlling influence. The main character, Joey (Josephine) Mullen, thinks she may have finally escaped her impulsive tendencies now that she has married and returned to settle down in her hometown.  She hopes that a rewarding career and all the trappings of a stereotypical suburban life will propel her into mature adulthood.  She soon discovers, however, that personal change is not so easily attainable.  Forced to live with her successful brother and expectant sister-in-law, Joey takes an entry-level job while her husband tries to drum up work as a home painter. Dissatisfied and disappointed, she yearns for the excitement they had during their whirlwind courtship. When Joey sees an elegant, attractive older man during her commute, she feels an instant but unwelcome attraction.  She keeps running into him, since he lives nearby and is the new headmaster at the local public school. Tom Fitzwilliam emerges as a central figure in the book, and much of the action revolves around him.  Joey is not the only one drawn to this man. The schoolgirls are besotted with him, a paranoid neighbor is convinced that Tom is spying on her, and his wife seems to acquiesce to his every need.  Only Tom’s own son and one female student at his school seem to be resistant to his charms.  Tension builds as these two teens begin to uncover secrets from Tom’s past and temptations between certain characters prove irresistible. Interspersed throughout the book are police interviews, hinting that a deadly crime has occurred. Jewell uses the different perspectives and flashbacks to tantalizingly reveal the details. She keeps the reader guessing all the way to the end and turns assumptions upside down in a satisfying resolution. Watching You is a welcome addition to Jewell’s already admirable collection of fast-paced and deservedly popular novels.


Thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for an Advanced Review Copy of this book.