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59 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who should you trust with your child?
Callie and Suzy are neighbours on Churchill Road in north London. Callie is a single mother with a frail 5 year old daughter Rae while Suzy has 3 young sons, Henry also 5, and younger twin sons, Otto and Peter. The two women do everything together until Callie decides to dip her toe back into working life and Debs moves in to the same street.

Each of the three...
Published on 6 May 2012 by C. Bannister

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52 of 58 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't believe the blurb on the back of the book
Three women are neighbours on an ordinary street in London; this novel is about how their lives become connected.

Callie, a single mother whose small daughter Rae has suffered health problems in infancy and is somewhat fragile. She is obsessively over-protective, irritatingly so, which has a detrimental effect on Rae who just wants to be a normal little...
Published on 27 Mar. 2012 by Jood


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59 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who should you trust with your child?, 6 May 2012
By 
C. Bannister (Jersey, CI) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Playdate (Paperback)
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Callie and Suzy are neighbours on Churchill Road in north London. Callie is a single mother with a frail 5 year old daughter Rae while Suzy has 3 young sons, Henry also 5, and younger twin sons, Otto and Peter. The two women do everything together until Callie decides to dip her toe back into working life and Debs moves in to the same street.

Each of the three women narrate their own short chapters so as readers we are able to piece together their feelings, their secrets and what links these three women together.

The plot moves quickly and as the reader we know something amiss from the blurb. Who's child is in danger, who from and why? The themes in this story range through what makes a friendship, what part the past has to play on our lives and who should you trust? Some of the minor characters seemed to be clichéd but hey clichés exist for a reason!

Although there were some parts to this story which didn't seem to be followed through to their conclusion almost as if they were there to drive the story in one direction in an earlier draft which I found a little confusing. I enjoyed this book and will be keen to see what Louise Millar produces next.
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52 of 58 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't believe the blurb on the back of the book, 27 Mar. 2012
By 
Jood (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Playdate (Paperback)
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Three women are neighbours on an ordinary street in London; this novel is about how their lives become connected.

Callie, a single mother whose small daughter Rae has suffered health problems in infancy and is somewhat fragile. She is obsessively over-protective, irritatingly so, which has a detrimental effect on Rae who just wants to be a normal little girl.

Suzy, an American woman who annoyingly addresses Callie as "hon" at every opportunity (I've lived in North America and have yet to meet anyone who used this annoying word as often as this character) lives across the road from Callie and since their friendship began a couple of years previously they have become dependant on each other. Suzy is married to stiff, formal Jez and is the mother of his three sons; the older one Henry seems to have some sort of behavioural problems. Maybe this is why Suzy is desperate to have another baby - preferably a girl.

Next door to Suzy is Debs, the new arrival to the street and the Crazy Lady, prone to bouts of paranoia and other craziness, and so obviously the one we're sure is The Bad One.

This novel is reasonably well written but it takes sooooo long to get to the point. I wasn't so much bored with it as frustrated; the blurb on the back cover leads one to believe that this will be a psychological thriller....."the book that will haunt mothers everywhere"...... it isn't. It's a tale of three women, none of whom is particularly likeable, who live fairly ordinary lives in an ordinary street. I was waiting for Something to Happen.....roughly 50 pages from the end it finally does, and even then it's quite predictable. The explanation for Debs strange behaviour is just plain ridiculous, and the loose ends are tied up just a little too neatly. I also think the title and front cover are misleading, as is the blurb on the jacket, as one is lead to believe there is far more to the book than is held between its pages. I would say that it's easy reading for a wet weekend, or once again that ubiquitous deck chair on a sunny day, but on the whole I found it a let down, and would have given it two and half stars had that option been available.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reasonably engaging and unpredictable but a bit too far-fetched, 23 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: The Playdate (Paperback)
This book is billed as a pyschological thriller, but for me it was a real disappointment and not worthy of this label. It comes highly recommend by Sophie Hannah - one of my favourite authors and someone who writes truly riveting psychological thrillers herself - and has predominantly positive reviews, but it's not a book I'd particularly recommend.

The narrative is split between three women living on the same street in north London: Callie, a single mum whose daughter has a heart condition and who wants to get back to work; American-in-London Suzy, who has three kids and a strained relationship with her husband Jez; and Debs, an older lady who's just moved onto the street with her new husband Allen and who suffers from severe anxiety issues. Their lives intertwine - or perhaps collide - with dramatic consequences.

There are four main things that really put me off The Playdate.

First, each woman has a secret - and boy do we know it. Louise Millar presumably tries to build up suspense and hint at future revelations. Unfortunately, she's a bit heavy-handed: almost every chapter ends with some kind of `dramatic' cliff-hanger, and it very quickly started to grate on me. If you have to force the `suspense' in there every couple of chapters, you're probably not really writing a suspenseful thriller.

Second, there really isn't a single likeable adult character. I didn't warm to any of them - male or female. I don't think they are particularly three-dimensional, and it's just not enjoyable reading a book when you struggle to care about any of the characters!

Third, the whole story turns out to built on one quite enormous coincidence about how the women came to be living in the same street. An explanation is provided, but it's a bit thin, and didn't really hold together for me. As I was reading The Playdate, I wasn't comparing it to other psychological thrillers like Before I Go To Sleep or those of Sophie Hannah. Rather, it felt like a poor attempt at a literary version of Desperate Housewives. The problem is that the TV show can get away with slightly outlandish plots because the characters are rounded and likeable and because the stories hang together so cleverly.

And fourth, The Playdate is Louise Millar's first novel, and perhaps her writing style will develop over time, but I found it very clunky and hard to read in places. I had to read this sentence about three times to make sense of it: `I bumped into him when he was talking to Maddy in our class's mum'. And this sentence made me laugh out loud: `A single lamp continued to perform its duty of waiting for Jez for come home.'

So that's what I didn't like. In its favour, The Playdate is not overly predictable. It's clear early on what you're supposed to expect, so I realised that that's exactly what wouldn't happen. But I didn't predict what actually did unfold. For this reason, I did keep reading to the end and in spite of everything I actually got quite into it in the last quarter of the novel.

I read this on my Kindle and at the end there's a note from Louise Millar about her motivations and intentions in writing it. The Playdate is supposedly an exploration of the consequences of increasing numbers of people moving away from their family and into cities, making friends based on convenience and necessity. Intertwined with this is the question of who we trust our children with and why. I'm sure these issues were in her head as she wrote, but unfortunately the two-dimensional characters and the coincidences undermine them: it's very hard to seriously relate it to your own life and take lessons from it when the characters are so extreme and the situation is so unlikely.

Overall, I wouldn't recommend this highly, but the story did at least keep me engaged so I suppose it wouldn't be a bad addition to a holiday reading list.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can anyone be trusted with your children?, 11 July 2012
By 
Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Playdate (Paperback)
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Callie, Suzy and Debs all live in the same street. Callie is a single mother and lives with her daughter Rae who has a heart problem. She wants to go back to work but that will need careful planning. Suzy is an American, married to Jez and mother of three small boys. Debs is married with no children and a part time job at a nearby school - she has just moved in next door to Suzy. The story is told from the point of view of each woman in alternate chapters. Callie narrates her own story and the other two are told in the third person.

Gradually the tension builds up as the story progresses. Is Debs really mad and what is her history? She thinks people are spying on her but just because you are paranoid it doesn't mean that they aren't out to get you. Is Suzy really the good friend Callie thinks she is? Surely it would be easy to tell your best friend that you have an opportunity to go back to work? Is Suzy's marriage really as strong as it appears? Who can you really trust with your children?

This is an interesting story which shows you cannot judge by appearances and that it is difficult to know who you can really trust. I found it well written and intriguing to try and piece things together to work out what is going on. I found Callie a little annoying as a character though I thought Debs was well done and I liked her in spite of her obsession with calm and order. The men in the story were more shadowy characters and did not really come to life for me which is why I have only given the book four stars. If you want something a bit different then give this a try - chick lit it definitely isn't in spite of its cover picture.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really Desperate Housewives, 24 Jun. 2012
By 
David Spanswick (Brighton United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Playdate (Paperback)
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Wisteria Lane has nothing on the residents of Churchill Road, a Suburban London Street where live the three women who feature in this gut-wrenchingly tense debut novel by Louise Millar

There is Callie, a frustrated young mum with a daughter, Rae, who is a delicate child with heart problems. Callie has been left to rear her sickly daughter after being abandoned by her husband. She lives in a flat in Churchill Road and is desperate to regain her life by going back to work as a sound designer but discovers, to her cost, the impossibility of achieving this dream.

Suzy, a young American mum with three boys and an erring husband, depends upon Callie for friendship and "grown up" conversation and is jealous when Callie does return to work.

And then there is Debs...well Debs is just desperate with a guilty secret she would like to move on from but finds this impossible. She is older than the other housewives and is also recently married to the ever patient Allen. I found as I was reading the book which is written for three voices, a first person narrative for Callie and third for the other two, that I became quite scared when the section was headed "Debs" as she is a truly disturbing and disturbed creation.

The narrative screws up to a nail-biting, unputdownable even though you want to in order to get some relief from the tension, climax which I am not going to reveal here.

The novel is written in a style that Hitchcock would have loved; the repetitive simple style belying the intricacy involved in writing a thriller. Barbara Vine came to mind also as I was reading, Ruth Rendell's darker alter ego, too can turn a very simple urban situation into the stuff of nightmare.

I will certainly be looking ou for future books by this author just to see what else she's got!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars who can you trust?, 16 Jun. 2012
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laineyf "widnes" (warwickshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Playdate (Paperback)
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Loved this!! 'The Playdate' by Louise Millar is a twisting, turning tale of deception. Callie is a single mother to 5 year old Rae, and in a big city like London, it's all too easy to become swallowed up and lost. Suze lives across the road, and is an American, mother to 3 sons (2 of which are twins), and is married to Jez, a successful businessman. The difference in Callie and Suze's lives is massive. Callie has no spare money, no social life, nothing. Suze has lots of money, lots of material things, and is generous and kind to Callie. The two become friends, sharing outings, shopping trips, and childcare. Both Callie and Suze are lonely in their own way, and find comfort in each other. Then Debs moves into their road, and things change. Debs has a 'past'. Things happened, leaving Debs a disturbed individual. As Debs settles in, things start to change for Callie and Suze. Callie goes back to work, and Rae goes to after-school club, which she tells Callie, she is happy about. However, Suze tells Callie that Rae is deeply unhappy, and Callie feels the guilt that ALL working mothers feel - trying to juggle career and family. Rae is closely protected by Callie, and her absent father Tom, because she was born with a heart condition, and whilst the condition is under control, both Callie (in particular) and Tom tend to over react if ever Rae falls over, or exerts herself. Tom is very unhappy at Callie's decision to return to work, but Callie feels that things will be OK, because Suze has promised to make sure Rae is looked after. In the meantime, Debs has got a job at the after-school club, and once, when Callie is late collecting Rae,and Suze can't, Debs agrees to escort Rae home. But who can you trust with your child? How do you KNOW that someone is who they say they are? We only know as much as a person chooses to reveal - and yet we trust them with our most treasured possessions - our children - but what if we are wrong?
This is a deeply thought-provoking, well written book, with characters that I found to be completely believable - flawed, hurt people, trying to live their lives, making mistakes as do we all. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ!!, 2 July 2012
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This review is from: The Playdate (Kindle Edition)
i have just finished reading The Playdate by Louise Millar and would recommend this book to anyone looking for a thought provoking novel that will keep them up half the night to see what will happen next! This book is such a page turner, and the story is gripping from the start. There are many twists and turns along the way, and just when you think have sussed out the characters and what is going to happen next, you are led down another path. The three main female characters Callie, Suzy and Debs are written beautifully and believably. As the story moves along, each of these characters are shown to be multi dimensional and you really have to stay close to them throughout the story, as you try to work out how they are going to react next. I read this book on my Kindle and the only drawback with the Kindle is that you don't realise how close to the end of a book you are, and before you know it the book is done.
A surprise at the end of the Kindle edition is a note from Louise Millar, explaining her thought processes and ideas when writing the book (which is hard to believe is a debut). This was really interesting to read from her perspective and definitely leaves you thinking about the trust we put in friends and non family members when it comes to our children. A must read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Play Date, 31 Mar. 2014
By 
Moonlit (scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Playdate (Kindle Edition)
An interesting premise for this book - who do you trust with your child? The story is told through the viewpoints of three women. Callie is a single parent with a daughter who has a heart condition, Suzy is her best friend, an American based in London with three young children and an uncaring, emotionally retarded husband and Debs, a middle aged woman who comes to live in their street, harbouring a secret from her past. Which of these three women is trustworthy? they all have their secrets which are gradually revealed in the course of the novel.

This novel wasn't quite what I was expecting. It's billed as a psychological thriller which it isn't, not really. The title is a little misleading, yes, Rae, Callie's daughter is obsessed with being asked for a playdate but it isn't really the theme or the subject of the novel. All three women have secrets but are they really that big a deal? I thought this was ok, good for a quick read and I would read another by the same author but I felt there should have been more tension in it if it was really to be seen as a thriller, psychological or otherwise.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, sometimes far-fetched- but overall good read, 29 Aug. 2012
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Maggie (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Playdate (Paperback)
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I notice some reviewers feel that this story was an unrealistic portrayal of the problems of single motherhood. That may well be true, but without the coincidences and slightly unbelievable elements it would not have been a story at all - or rather it would have been a very boring tale of "struggling single mother with childcare problems": not what I want to read about, thanks! Instead the author has imagined and then exaggerated the pitfalls of being a lone mother in a big city, not knowing whom to trust and doing her best with potentially dangerous consequences. I think she does it very well and thus provides a story that has suspense and unexpected twists that will keep you guessing. I sometimes felt empathy for Callie and at others was exasperated by her, but for me that made her real - not a saint, as some reviewers appear to have expected! Another reviewer gave up long before the end so her negative views on the characters cannot really be valid - much is revealed later in the book that explains why people are as they are.I recommend you read it and make up your own mind.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thought provoking book, 3 May 2012
By 
D. Pearce "djarmhp" (rainham, kent) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Playdate (Paperback)
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I enjoyed the writing style of The Playdate which was fast paced and easy to lose yourself in. Louise Millar definitely knows her audience and the central story will strike a chord with most mothers who have had to leave their children with anyone else. To my surprise I found the story quite believeable and unnerving especially with the twist in the final few chapters. The main strength of the twist is the fact that it's logical and not one that leaves you feeling short changed as a number of others have done. I will definitely be looking out for more Louise Millar books after this.
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The Playdate
The Playdate by Louise Millar (Paperback - 26 April 2012)
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