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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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on 5 April 2013
If you are looking for a cosy aga saga this book probably isn't for you. The subject of bullying isn't tackled a lot in popular fiction - especially not from the viewpoint of the bully - and this book also covers usually taboo subjects such as self harm and mental illness. On the surface Laura lives a 'shiny happy people' existence in her sheltered suburb with her rich successful husband and her equally successful friends but she carries some dark secrets from her past - the worst of which is probably the relentless way in which she bullied a former classmate. A phone call from the past threatens her cosy lifestyle and from then on the novel delves into ever darker and darker places as Laura realises her 'perfect' life is anything but.

I can't say that it was an easy read but I found it utterly compelling from the first page to the last. The childhood Laura was exactly the sort of girl I would have hated had I been unfortunate enough to have her as a classmate, but as the novel progressed I found myself feeling a sort of grudging sympathy with her. In a way she is the victim of her own success at fitting in - even her husband really doesn't care about her inner self, only that she continues to project the image of a perfect wife - and none of her friends seem to care about anything other than surface appearances. Only her relationship with her children is real.

This book isn't aimed at young adults but I'm sure a lot of teenage girls could benefit from reading it as it shows how far reaching the consequences of their behaviour can be ...
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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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VINE VOICEon 23 March 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine 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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on 2 May 2011
I found this a compelling though not a comfortable read. Once I started it I found it difficult to put down

Laura, the narrator, leads a rather Stepford Wives existence with a handsome successful husband and two beautiful children. Then she receives a phone call from the mother of Heddy a girl she was at school with. Heddy a victim of bullying as a child, is being held in a mental hospital after a breakdown. Her mother wants Laura's help in getting Heddy released. Laura is initially reluctant to get involved but Heddy's mother' persistence and guilt at the major part she played in Heddy's bullying gets her involved and leads ultimately to the unraveling of her perfect world. Her gradual realisation of the shallowness of her present life and social values is very well done.

Laura comes over as a flawed but ultimately likeable character who is honest enough to confront her past and ultimately to change her future. I was left wondering what exactly would happen to her and also to Heddy.
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on 29 April 2016
Enjoyed it very much. I went through a lot of emotions reading this, loved the way the author turned things around. I remember listening to a radio programme about the book quiet a while ago but it wasn't until I started reading it that I remembered. You hate the main character then you think you deserve everything that comes your way to feeling empathy for her in the end.
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VINE VOICETOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 January 2011
This book is well written and very engaging.

Despite not liking the protaganist Laura at the start of the book it was a compelling read. The stories of life in the playground were uncomfortably realistic as were those of the "school mums." I am sure we all know or have known people like these.

The book is really about the consequences of our actions, Laura has to atone for her actions as a child and in the process quesitons her current life.

This is not an easy book to read but I was engrossed and wanted to find out why Laura's parents were so keen for the girls to be friends.

Looking forward to the next book by Suzanne Bugler
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on 7 June 2011
... that film in the early 90s where a bunch of med students experiment with self induced coma and when they 'return' to life they are haunted by their memories of their past, by the people they wronged... This Perfect World provoked exactly the same feelings, of digging into my past, evaluating, scrutinising my behaviour as a child and almost twisting my memories into fitting with the main character's past and emotions.

Only a truly superb author can do that to you!

The writing was powerful and vivid, it left a huge lump in my throat, it depressed me, but I couldn't put it down.

I recommend it, but be warned it would make you view the girl/woman next door differently, which can only be a good thing right?
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on 8 August 2013
I read this book,It had been sitting on my shelf for a while, I am so glad i read it, a very sad book that makes you think about how your actions effect other people, just because someone is not perfect does not mean they do not have feelings, the moral is treat others the way you expect to be treated yourself..
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on 22 April 2015
Thoroughly enjoyed this book although it made me squirm a few times. Does make you examine how you behaved as a child towards others. Kept my attention throughout the story and definitely a book I wanted to continue reading.
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