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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 April 2011
Not a book to read if you are wanting cheering up, or something light and fluffy- I came away from this book with a sense of unsatisfideness (excuse the dodgy word). It makes you reconsider what is perfection, and whether, what you are aiming for is actually what you want from life or will you find yourself still searching and looking for the missing meaning, after you acheive it.

Laura has the perfect life. But for it to be perfect you have to live on the surface, nothing deep, no past, no pain. Those are the rules that she and her friends live by. So when her past comes surfacing, and Laura has to deal with past mistakes and wrong choices, her perfect world starts to seem superficial and shallow, and everything starts to tumble apart.

Bugler does a really good job at portraying these two opposite worlds in the book. The coarse realness of Heddys world helps to highlight what is missing from Laura's world and makes the reader wonder why, as Laura's world of perfect families, yoga, school runs, working husbands, seems so perfect on paper, why is it that Heddys world is the one we, with laura are drawn in to, and why is the perfect world not enough.

A really interesting read. Draws you in completely and leaves you at the end completely with Laura, wondering what to do now.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 22 April 2010
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A really good read. A great story of secrets and lies and how what happens in your childhood can always come back to haunt you. This book is really well written and is a real page turner.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 February 2014
I loved this book was frustrated by it at the same time.

Laura and James have the perfect marriage, two perfect children, the perfect house and the perfect friends, or so it seems to someone on the outside. However, within the marriage Laura is unhappy and starts to realise how futile her life is, spending days having coffees with other middle class mothers and competing to make the best costumes for her children’s book day at school.

One day, Laura gets a phone call from Mrs Partridge, the mother of a child Laura used to reletnlessly bully during school. Mrs Partridge is ringing to tell Laura that her daughter has had a mental breakdown and in a psychiatric hospital and she wants Laura and James’ help to get her out.

Laura has to face the past that she wants to keep hidden and begins to realise how one small thing can have devastating consequences years later.

Laura is a puzzling character. She is ultimately flawed, as we all are, but is strangely likable and I found myself sympathising with her most of the time. As she went on a journey of self-discovery and realisation I began to warm to her even more. I disliked the character of James intensely. He was everything a husband and father should not be.

The issues raised in this book surrounding mental health were confusing. I didn’t like the way it was portrayed much but then I don’t know whether this was the purpose of the book, to challenge the way that we view mental health. Everything seemed to be resolved far too easily with no mention of how Heddy (the daughter of Mrs Partridge) recieved help from psychiatrists or the like. The way Laura spoke to her too about being selfish by self harming with a son to look after really angered me…..self harming is not something you chose to do because you just feel like it. Self harming is an incredibly complex problem and cannot be solved by someone telling you to pull yourself together……anyway, I’ll get off my mental health high horse!!

The plot was very addictive even though it felt like not a lot actually happened. The majority of the chapters were just in-depth views of Laura’s seemingly perfect life and dinner parties with only the last third of the book really moving the pace along and bringing the slightly anticlimactic ‘resolution’.

I will be extremely interested to hear what other people make of this book and I wouldn’t shy away from reading it. I read this in less than a day, it’s quite a short read (about 300 pages) so would be worth giving a go.

An interesting look at how the past can really come back to haunt you no matter how hard you try to run away from it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I read this straight after the author's other book, 'The Child Inside'. The main character of this book, Laura, is a mother who has always been in the in-crowd - both at school and now in the circle of local mums. Appearance and popularity are everything to her at the start of the book, but we are skilfully led towards her epiphany, when she realises how shallow and unpleasant she has been. The main character of 'The Child Inside' is a mother who is always on the outside looking mournfully in, feeling shut out from the charmed existence she imagines the in-crowd live. I love this contrast of two novels written from both sides of the fence.

Aside from this dimension, I was also gripped by the unfolding horrors of her bullying of Heddy, who she can't seem to escape either in childhood or in adulthood. I agree with other reviewers that Heddy was a bit of a cliche of a bullied child - lumpen, doughy, unexpressive - but I didn't mind this because the focus was on Laura's view of her rather than Heddy herself and what Heddy thought and felt. For me, this was a new viewpoint on bullying - insight into the perpetrator's mind rather than the victim: the revulsion Laura feels for Heddy is constant and palpable, dripping off the page. As someone who was bullied at school myself, I found Laura's dawning realisation of how hideously she has behaved quite satisfying. And the twist at the end came as a complete surprise, adding new layers to the book as a whole. A completely absorbing read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I tried to start this novel twice before finally getting into it, and it seems that other reviewers have had the same experience - the tone was just so bleak, and the main character and narrator, Laura, was so obviously unpleasant and her interactions with childhood bullying target, Heddy, so upsetting, that I thought I wouldn't enjoy it. But after the first few chapters, 'This Perfect World' really takes off. I think the problem was that the comparisons to writers such as Nicci French on the cover (I haven't read the other two mentioned, so can't comment on their work) led me to expect a rather shallow, if superficially dark read, and this certainly isn't that. As Laura is forced to re-encounter her past when Heddy's mother, Mrs Partridge, asks for her help in getting Heddy out of a mental hospital, her obviously-not-from-the-beginning perfect world breaks apart as she stops convincing herself that everything really is OK.

Bugler's style is dark and almost satirical in its tone - the shallowness of Laura's friends and husband is a little too heavily-drawn to be believable, and Laura herself clearly doesn't really buy into the values she professes to hold, as when she tells us blithely that she and her husband 'have sex scheduled in on Wednesdays'. But this isn't really a criticism of the novel, as I didn't read it, or feel it was intended to be read, as a totally realistic portrait of the privileged way of life it describes, although it has clearly struck close to home for some readers (I was reminded of the excellent 'Arlington Park' by Rachel Cusk). Laura's gradual softening throughout the novel is very well done. Rather than becoming a completely sympathetic character, aspects of her behaviour are still disturbing; her self-righteous monologues to Heddy in hospital which, we are told, have 'helped', although we never know why or if Heddy would have eventually recovered by herself anyway; her great glee in skewering her unpleasant neighbours which, although they well deserved their humiliation, didn't exactly endear her to me. And yet I felt great sympathy for her by the end of the novel when the full background to her father's unpleasant behaviour to her towards the years is revealed, and she realises (as does he) quite how hopeless it is to apologise for the past.

I started this book thinking it was going to be about Heddy - obviously Laura is the narrator, but I thought it would be Heddy's background that was peeled back as Laura was forced to understand her and accept how wrong her behaviour was in the past. Instead, it's really about Laura. Heddy is only really a cypher, given little voice of her own as she is first silenced by bullying and then by illness, and is important as Laura's alter-ego, everything she doesn't want to be but fears she is. One of the most powerful scenes in the novel is when Heddy and Laura's roles are briefly reversed in a flashback to Laura's school-days, and Heddy sees Laura as the victim and social outsider for a moment rather than the other way round, but I won't say more in case this counts as a spoiler.

Overall, then, I would recommend this, but I'm still not sure how to label it, which is a sign of the book's strength rather than its weakness - I don't think it wants to be literary fiction, it's far classier than the normal women's thriller, and much subtler than I gave it credit for at first. Possibly time for a re-read?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 23 March 2010
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )Verified Purchase
Laura lives in a seemingly perfect middle class world, full of french lessons and yoga classes, until a phone call drags her into her long forgotten past.
I know a lot of people who live in worlds like this - struggling to balance coffee mornings with girly lunches and having to find time to pick up the children!! I ranged from thinking that it was me being described to being very smug that I was nothing like any of Laura's "friends". I found myself thinking about the Stepford wives and then the film was mentioned in the very next page - weird.
There was a particular experience when she has to make a fancy dress for her son to wear at school, which bought back memories for me. As well as this there are many other times that the author seems to be able to portray a very normal family activity which I could completely empathise with.
The plot is very intriguing and develops in a way that kept me wanting to find out about the past. The character of Laura herself is well drawn, going along with her life, knowing she should be doing better things but falling into the easy world of clothes, children and curtains - she knows it is wrong but is powerless to stop it.
Also, the ending is great and just made me want to know more. Endings seem to be so difficult to write and this is a good one, leaving the reader wanting to know more with plenty of loose ends.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Laura Hamley is living her perfect life in her perfect home, with her perfect husband, friends and children. However, there is something dark under the surface of her life and when Mrs Partridge, the mother of a girl named Heddy who Laura bullied at school, rings her up asking for her help, it brings it all back and Laura's perfect life starts to fall apart.

This is a fantastic read. It flows so well and I read it really quickly, but it's got serious undertones, not least of which is the consequences of our own actions. It's quite an uncomfortable read at times too, as we learn of the nature of Laura's bullying of Heddy, and it did make me cringe to read those parts. But it also highlights how important it can be to some people to be part of the 'in crowd', both in childhood and adulthood.

This is a book I would definitely recommend, particularly if you like psychological thrillers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 14 February 2011
I thought this was a great book. The plot is very engaging if a little uncomfortable at times and moves at a good pace. the characters were drawn very well and the interactions between Laura and her friends/family were realistic. Sadly, there are people out there who judge others by the type of car they drive, size of their house and how clever their children are. We all have a 'social face' and this book describes very well how and why we conform to certain things in order to stay in with the 'in crowd'and how when your 'social face' slips a little you are suddenly no longer wanted.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An excellent story about bullying and the effect it can have on the one on the receiving end. Laura's seemingly perfect life is shattered when the mother of someone she bullied as a child calls to ask for help to enable her to get her child, now an adult, out of a Mental Hospital. Laura's life is a bit like "Stepford Wives" as she sashays from party to party and performs all the duties expected as one on "The Elite". Her reluctance to help and her way of dealing with "The Problem" soon reveals parts of her character that she's not proud of. Her past eventually catches up to her and she finds that what she considered important is trivial in the grand scheme of things. Her fathers seemingly kind attitude towards Heddy(The bullied girl) had always puzzled Laura and she eventually feels the need to confront her parents to find out if they'd hidden anything from her. An excellent story that keeps you on tenterhooks until the last page.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 15 March 2010
A very well crafted novel, written about the ever present and insidious topic of bullying and its effects.

Not an easy read at the best of times, this left me unsettled and unsure. Probably not helped by the memories of my own time in the hands of teenage bullies many moons ago!

Superbly written, and believable.
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