So, we’re keeping this as the last #ATBR2019 because we both technically finished it in 2019. Just waiting on blog tour spots – so we’re leaving it that way lol
Thanks to William Morrow for the free early copies in exchange for our honest reviews
THE PLAYGROUND – Jane Shemilt (Released December 30th, 2019)
Big Little Lies meets Lord of The Flies in this electrifyingly twisty follow-up to Jane Shemilt’s breakout debut The Daughter.
Over the course of a long, hot summer in London, the lives of three very different married couples collide when their children join the same tutoring circle, resulting in illicit relationships, shocking violence, and unimaginable fallout.
There’s Eve, a bougie earth mother with a well-stocked trust fund; she has three little ones, a blue-collar husband and is obsessed with her Instagrammable recipes and lifestyle. And Melissa, a successful interior designer whose casually cruel banker husband is careful not to leave visible bruises; she curates her perfectly thin body so closely she misses everything their teenage daughter is hiding. Then there’s Grace, a young Zimbabwean immigrant, who lives in high-rise housing project with her two children and their English father Martin, an award-winning but chronically broke novelist; she does far more for her family than she should have to.
As the weeks go by, the couples become very close; there are barbecues, garden parties, a holiday at a country villa in Greece. Resentments flare. An affair begins. Unnoticed, the children run wild. The couples are busily watching each other, so distracted and self-absorbed that they forget to watch their children. No one sees the five children at their secret games or realize how much their family dynamics are changing until tragedy strikes.
The story twists and then twists again while the three families desperately search for answers. It’s only as they begin to unravel the truth of what happened over the summer that they realize evil has crept quietly into their world.
But has this knowledge come too late?
Chandra’s Thoughts: 3/5 stars
AH-HA-HA-HA – I KNEW IT!!! **points finger and then shakes fist**
What an interesting web you weave, Shemilt! The synopsis definitely says best when it comes to Big Little Lies feels because those are definitely all there! These parents are the worst. I mean, they don’t mean to be but they’re so busy dealing with their own issues to really pay attention to their children. Then again, what’s really right or wrong – every one has a different parenting technique. I don’t even want to blame them *too* much even though there are definitely some that I just wanna slap silly.
Listen, this is a fun read. We get various POVs with occasional breaks between fuller chapters of the kids thoughts. I’m not *quite* sure if I liked those – I think they either should’ve been elaborated on a little bit or just left out altogether. They didn’t really lend a whole lot to my personal reading experience. There are also a few things that didn’t seem to make sense… like that random raisin you find in a chocolate chip cookie.
Here’s the thing. I figured this one out very early on. But that’s ok. I don’t mind figuring things out as long as the rest of the ride is still a fun one to be on. This one is a bit bumpy at times but phew. I think I had love/hate relationships with almost all the characters and just needed a bit more. With everything going on, some things didn’t get fully fleshed out. I may have almost liked it more if it had been written more from the kids’ perspectives. And while I have a lot of why why why going on in my head by certain things, sometimes it’s better to just enjoy the journey.
A good read for those who like those domestic dramas with a touch of evilness. Avid thriller readers may find this easily predictable and not as *full* as they would otherwise prefer.
My Thoughts: 3/5 stars
THE PLAYGROUND by Jane Shemilt is the perfect lighter suspense read to cozy up with during the cold weather this winter. I’m happy I went into it kind of blindly (I need to get better at rereading the synopses before starting!) so that I wasn’t anticipating a crazy and twisty thriller. While there are some twists and turns throughout the book there is plenty of drama and manipulation happening to keep you on your toes.
We are introduced to three different families as all of their children are part of the same tutoring class for dyslexic children. All have different methods of parenting and there’s plenty of drama to go around when it comes to them interacting with one another. Secrets, illicit relationships, and consequences galore for this group of friends.
Who doesn’t love a good domestic drama? I thought this was an easy read and one you could get through fairly quickly and there was plenty to keep your attention. A couple things felt a little rushed towards the end and felt a little muddled for me, and I didn’t really connect with any of the characters. None of them were particularly likeable, which isn’t always a bad thing. There just felt like there was something missing for me, but I can’t really put my finger on it. Still would highly recommend to those wanting a lighter suspense!