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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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The previous novel by this author, 'This Perfect World', was a gripping emotional read, and deservedly went on to become a Richard and Judy Book Club selection, thereby also garnering a much wider readership. With this novel, the author has again chosen a very emotional storyline. Rachel is devastated to have lost her baby daughter seven months into her pregnancy. Unsurprisingly she is haunted and tormented by the loss of her baby girl, `hers is the ghost that will not let me go' she says. Her relationship with her teenage son, Jono, is strained at best, and she feels distanced from her husband Andrew. They have put their son in a private school, and Rachel feels she has no real friends amongst the mothers there, further alienating her. Her isolation is mirrored by Jono, himself isolated amongst his richer school friends, and this becomes another thing that eats away at Rachel; `We shoved him among them, and now I can only watch as I see him measuring himself against them, and falling short.'

Rachel begins to think back to a friend, Vanessa, `a friend by association' really, who she had and lost during her teenage years. A chance encounter one day brings the events from that time back to the forefront of her thoughts, and she knowingly becomes obsessed. She actively seeks out the Vanessa's brother, and a clandestine affair begins. What results will cause her further torment.

This is a dark, compulsive, well-written tale, with a chilling portrait of this desperate, lonely, obsessed mother who feels trapped in domestic life. She feels invisible, like she doesn't matter. `I am just a middle-aged woman out of nowhere. I am what you become when you disappear.' I felt sympathy for Rachel, but also a bit of irritation. She can only change her life herself, but she chooses something negative in having an affair. She knows it can't lead anywhere. She doesn't, or can't, appreciate what she's got. But, it's easy to judge her when standing on the outside looking in. She is incredibly hard on herself, `sunk in the grip of self-loathing.' She is full of sadness, it tragic to read how disconnected from the world she feels. `I feel myself to be outside life, looking in' and has always felt `the outsider, the one on the edge of other people's lives.'

If you enjoyed 'This Perfect World' I think you'll get a lot out of this novel, too.
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Unlike Laura in This Perfect World Rachel, the protagonist of The Child Inside, isn't one of the yummy mummy's. Rachel has spent her life on the periphery of everyone else's life wanting to be part of the group but instead had the role of the observer in life.

Giving birth to a still-born daughter ten years previously caused Rachel to draw her husband Andrew and son Jono close to her. Poor Jono has been Rachel and Andrew's sheild against the world and the centre of theirs. Suzanne Bugler's descriptions of the cloying and suffocating result are so realistic it is almost painful and as a reader we observe Jono struggling with growing up and fighting against his parents. Rachel is then drawn back to the past and the death of a friend of a friend who died aged sixteen, following her mother and trying to involve herself in her life. As Rachel's interest in the past increases her marriage disintegrates further. Rachel can't let go of the past but thinks she has found a way to live her life....

As in This Perfect World the author's words bring the scene's to life. Her observations on how cruel, selfish and unkind the human race can be are captured perfectly creating dark and compelling stories. I can't wait for the next one!
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on 16 January 2012
Another fantastic book by Suzanne Bugler. A tale of how a family can be torn apart by a mother's grief for her stillborn daughter and how she cannot move on from the loss. I could not put it down and read it in 3 days. The only downside was that it had an ending! I would definitely recommend.
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I thought Suzanne Bugler's first novel This Perfect World was superb and was looking forward to seeing what she would come up with next. The Child Inside deals with a very emotive subject; the death of a child, and like her previous novel it is well-written and at times a very compelling read, but for me there was something lacking.

The lead character Rachel is a woman in mourning, not only for her dead child, but also for her dead teenage friend, and also for the death of her marriage. The death of her unborn child and the death of her friend (albeit many years ago) seem so firmly linked together. Rachel seems to view the death of Vanessa all those years ago as a turning point in her life, even though they were not particularly close. Rachel spends much of her time looking back, trying to imagine what life would be like if Vanessa had not died. She also thinks that life in general, her marriage and her relationship to her son Jono would be perfect if only her unborn daughter had not died in the womb.

I found Rachel a very depressing character, although I was sympathetic to her losses, I found her very self-centred and her actions throughout the novel seemed purely to make herself feel better and disregarded anyone else around her.

Despite this, the writing is good and the story is at times quite fascinating. There were times when it dragged a litttle and I found the ending a little unsatisfactory, but I will certainly read her next novel.
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on 22 January 2012
Reading this was like being swept along white water. I couldn't stop. Masterfully written, Bugler writes only from the viewpoint of Rachel and I easily bought into her view of the tragic death of her unborn daughter and the knock on effect it had on her husband and their son. It felt as if Rachel's mind was unravelling and I could taste the emptiness of her existence. But then, as we near the end, perspectives shift. I suddenly came to understand her son Jono, and the reason for his sullenness and anger. Bugler is a superb talent and my only regret (apart from finishing the book!) is the slightly implausible ending.
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on 21 May 2012
I've read the other reviews of this book, and I agree that Rachel is quite a depressing character, but all the same I loved this book. The author has absolutely nailed what it can be like staying home all day with a child - it was like looking inside my mind on a bad day (thank goodness I have good ones as well, to balance it out!). I was gripped by the story, and the only reason I haven't given a 5-star rating is because I found the premise a little odd. I think the character is frequently described as obsessive in an attempt to make the flimsy premise a little sturdier, but for me it didn't quite work. For Rachel to hunt down the mother of a girl she was only loosely acquainted with in her teens but was never close friends with seemed odd. To start calling the girl's brother was even odder. However, it was easy to overcome this slight sticking point, because I was fascinated both by Rachel's thought patterns and by what she would do next.
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on 21 February 2012
This gripping read takes you on the journey of the what ifs... The things you imagine you may do in life but would not due to constraints of decency and privacy. Rachel does the things, approaching a stranger to ask about a deceased childhood friend, when she is shunned she then tracks down Vanessa's brother.

At first her actions seem neurotic, while her husband seems cold and unemotional, as the story goes on we find out more about the characters, and are able to sympathise with each of their failings.

An emotional read which explores the extremes of the human emotions.
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on 6 April 2015
From the first chapter I couldn't put this down.
I read it in a day.
Rachel had me hooked wanting to know more about what was going on inside her head.
I felt for Jonathan who struggled to fit into the world he was thrust into by his parents.
This story could be about so many families.
It is important to remember that each person has their own story to tell, it was easy to make assumptions about the other family members and good to hear their voices at the end of the story.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 February 2012
I loved Bugler's This Perfect World and this is another dark and edgy read that unsettles and disturbs us.

Rachel isn't a particularly pleasant - or reliable - narrator but our relationship to her and the story she tells is central to this nicely complex book. Bugler takes elements from standard 'female' texts: the lost child, the affair, the cold husband, the competitive sister, the problematic past, and re-assembles them them into something fresh, newly sinister and bleak. Paranoia and neurosis are ever-present and we're never quite sure whether Rachel will be - or has been - tipped over the edge into psychosis.

If you're looking for a light read with a settled ending then this might not be a good choice - it's ambivalent in its characterisation and moral outlook - but if you like your writing edgy, raw and unsettling, then this is an excellent choice. Bugler is becoming an interesting writer for me - she may take her origins from the familiar but she re-works them into something original, subversive and disconcerting.
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on 14 December 2013
I found this to be a really good read. The Author made me feel all the emotions of the main characters. A desperately unhappy woman, so engrossed in her own heartache, unable to see the good she has in her life. Would certainly recommend and I'm keen to read others by Suzanne Bugler
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