WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS. For a relatively spoiler-free post see my original review.
There have been quite a few requests for an explanation of the ending of Watching You, and in particular the owner of the hair so here’s my take. Right up to the end of the book it is maintained that Genevieve Hart kills herself, as a result of the appalling bullying she endured from Nikki Lee and her sidekicks. The local paper report concludes
…Miss Hart left no note, and had cut off her hair with a pair of scissors shortly before taking her own life
Tom Fitzwilliam will have been aware of that newspaper report. So when Freddie presents him with the bunch of hair he finds in his mother’s boxes, Fitzwilliam realises that this places Nikki at least shortly before Viva’s death. Indeed, his reaction suggests that he concludes that this was no suicide but that his late wife must have murdered Viva.
Now as readers we may have already come up with the conclusion that Viva was murdered by Nikki, but in placing the revelation here Jewell does a number of things. First, she makes it clear that Tom Fitzwilliam took the newspaper reports at face value. He did not know for sure what Nikki had done, which means she lied to him, or he did not ask. Second, she invites us to think about what kind of person would keep that kind of trophy. When placed alongside the epilogue letter it seems to suggest that she is siding with Nikki’s murderer.
If you have a different theory, I’d be glad to hear, so leave a comment below.
Lisa’s newest novel, The Family Remains, was published in July 2022. Don’t miss our review.
I think that Nikki pretended to be Tom and invited Viva to the chicken warehouse to humiliate her. When Viva arrived she realized she fell for another bullying prank and that Tom did not love her. She then took her own life. Nikki showed up to laugh at her and rub it in, but Viva was already dead, so she considered it a triumph and took some of her hair as a trophy.
Or that Tom did in fact kill Viva and Nikki kept it all this time as a means of blackmail or hoping that someone would someday find it….
Maybe. I am not convinced that Lisa Jewell is taking us down that route. Why do you think Tom did it?
I could go a couple different directions here, and I think the most obvious and probably correct one is that Nikki did it. But I am still struck by the fact that Tom was still called seedy. That he was still pretty gross, too confidential with young women, and trapped in a marriage, and, I think most damning, is that Nikki always got other people to do her dirty work. How would a teenage girl manage to hang another girl by herself?
It makes me wonder if Tom had something to hide, if he had been in cahoots with Nikki, a secret which kept both of them together. I thought that alternative seemed pretty obvious, so I guess I am surprised not to see anyone with that theory here.
If I remember correctly (and it’s been a while) Tom doesn’t know Nikki at this point. He is seedy and that perhaps indicates that he doesn’t ask too many questions. But I do think that he is shocked by this revelation.
I don’t think Nicola killed Viva because like Rebecca said she was a coward and never did the dirty work herself so she must have just been there torturing Viva to commit suicide.
I mostly agree. I think that Nicola either killed Viva or pushed her to kill herself after tricking her into thinking she was meeting Tom. My question upon finishing the book is how did Nicola happen to get Viva’s hair? In the news report that Freddie and Jenna found, it was said that she was found hanged with a pair of stockings with her hair at her feet. How would Nicola have ended up with the hair if the story continued to be that Viva committed suicide?
I think she has ended up with just a lock of hair, which she would have stolen from the scene…which means she must have been there (or got it from the killer)
The ending appears obvious; however, one question comes to mind: On the envelope the dark hair is in, there are the letters “DL”. What do these letters stand for?
Hi – it’s a ‘DL envelope’. DL is the standard size of envelope used in the UK for business correspondence: long and thin, it takes an A4 sheet of paper folded twice. The DL detail is meant to show that it’s a random, run-of-the-mill envelope probably found lying around and with no effort made in choosing it.
Thanks! I thought, perhaps, it was someone’s initials, which would have revealed something I completely missed. The quarantine has apparently affected my brain. 😅
[…] by two Lisa Jewell trademarks: a first person narrative from a strong teenage female lead, and a punchy twist in the last sentence that serves us right for lazily thinking that the final chapter …. In between, there is a rollercoaster exploration of various power imbalances, presentations of […]
Great explanation! I was so confused as I had totally forgotten the detail about Viva cutting off her hair prior to “committing suicide”.
Arghhh thank you so much it didn’t click with me at all about Viva cutting her hair connecting with the hair in the envelope! Thick or what! 😂
I agree with you. I took it that the hair belonged to Nikki and that Viva had been there … either murdering her or driving her to take her own life. I thought that Tom didn’t realize until Freddie brought him the hair.
[…] UPDATE 2: Following a few requests I’ve posted my theory about the ending. Obviously there are all… […]
Why can’t Lisa Jewel tell us what she meant by the hair in the envelope?