Top critical review
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I loved this book was frustrated by it at the same time
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.