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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Playroom is not for kids!, 10 Mar. 2004
By 
Mrs. Anne Shimwell (Bakewell, Derbyshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Playroom (Paperback)
I have always enjoyed Frances Fyfield's novels, some more than others, but her latest is in a league of its own. Not a conventional crime novel, certainly not a who-dun-it, this would be a very good resource for those working in the child protection field, especially for those with limited experience or knowledge of it, as it reveals layer by layer what lies beneath the "ordinary middle-class family" known to the neighbours. Not a book for those who like gory details and lots of excitement, this builds slowly, inexorably, to the dénouement. Well written, well constructed, it is certainly worth reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong ground, 16 Sept. 2009
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Playroom (Paperback)
Middle-class, working mothers, big houses, beautiful clothes, food, furniture - but oh what a difference from cosy old Joanna Trollope! Outwardly everything seems fine in the beautiful house of David and Katherine Allendale. They have two children, a lovely little boy, Jeremy, and it's so touching how close he is to his adored daddy, and podgy four-year old Jeanetta. It's true that Jeanetta is a handful - prone to screaming tantrums and devoid of the usual little girl charm, but this seems a small matter, soon to be solved by proper socialising and school.

Fyfield's way with character is to get inside their heads, and this she manages very well for her female characters and some of her male ones, but she doesn't try for the inside of David's head - there's no point, perhaps, since it is quickly clear that he is the villain of the piece. Nevertheless, I feel he is the one missing piece in the jigsaw of this novel. Without access to David we are left with a figure of evil, one dimensional, apart from his love for the child he favours. David is a sillhouette, while everyone else is a full length portrait.

This is a stunning crime novel - a chilling and all-too believable example of the principle that middle class lives, money and sensibilities are no bar to the obscenity of child cruelty, though not the kind of cruelty one might expect. The neighbours, David's mother, Katherine's sister all feel uneasy about some aspects of David, but no one comes up with the right answer, and David is so clever about deflecting all suspicions and passing on any blame - usually to his beleaguered wife. It is partly because of Katherine's weakness, her concern for the surface of things, of how things look (a traditionally middle class concern one might say) that David is able to do the things he does.

I was totally caught up in this horrific story, partly because it seems to echo so many of the cases that one reads about in newspapers. Here is a man who values control above all things. The family syndrome is well-documented - that of blaming one child, of singling that one child out for rejection, even while the others may be loved and cherished, so Fyfield is on strong ground. This, however, is something of a departure for Fyfield who eschews her usual humorous touches and gets to grips with something that might be described as the modern family's heart of darkness.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A dark story, 6 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: The Playroom (Kindle Edition)
A great book. Very dark and sometimes quite scary and made me want to scream at the book sometimes (yes, I'm obviously crazy) but a book really worth reading. I felt the story did get a little lost now and again and went off at a 'tangent' but all in all very much worth a read.
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The Playroom
The Playroom by Frances Fyfield
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