Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Blog Tour & Review: The Playground by Jane Shemilt

Title: The Playground
Author: Jane Shemilt
Published: December 2019, William Morrow Paperbacks
Format: ARC Paperback, 384 pages
Source: Publisher via TLC Booktours

Big Little Lies meets Lord of The Flies in this electrifyingly twisty follow-up to Jane Shemilt’s breakout debut The Daughter.

Over the course of a long, hot summer in London, the lives of three very different married couples collide when their children join the same tutoring circle, resulting in illicit relationships, shocking violence, and unimaginable fallout.

There’s Eve, a bougie earth mother with a well-stocked trust fund; she has three little ones, a blue-collar husband and is obsessed with her Instagrammable recipes and lifestyle. And Melissa, a successful interior designer whose casually cruel banker husband is careful not to leave visible bruises; she curates her perfectly thin body so closely she misses everything their teenage daughter is hiding. Then there’s Grace, a young Zimbabwean immigrant, who lives in high-rise housing project with her two children and their English father Martin, an award-winning but chronically broke novelist; she does far more for her family than she should have to.

As the weeks go by, the couples become very close; there are barbecues, garden parties, a holiday at a country villa in Greece. Resentments flare. An affair begins. Unnoticed, the children run wild. The couples are busily watching each other, so distracted and self-absorbed that they forget to watch their children. No one sees the five children at their secret games or realize how much their family dynamics are changing until tragedy strikes.

The story twists and then twists again while the three families desperately search for answers. It’s only as they begin to unravel the truth of what happened over the summer that they realize evil has crept quietly into their world.

But has this knowledge come too late?

My thoughts: What a wild, crazy ride this book is! If you like Big Little Lies than this is definitely your type of read, but just know, it's a touch darker, but so addicting!

You know when you see a car wreck and you just can't help but look? That's this story and I mean that in the best possible way. This book completely captured my attention and not necessarily because I liked the characters but because of all the hints of what was to come - I love books like that - it just gets under my skin and I desperately need to know what has happened and why. With those hints, you know it can't all be good. You get the sense of foreboding and perhaps you pick up a few clues here and there but can you put it all together?

These characters are not the most likeable, I'll be honest, but they do have this power over you where you want to know all their secrets because they all have them. Each of these families may seem normal on the outside, but behind closed doors it is anything but. It is clear that they all have some form of dysfunction in their lives and perhaps that leads to the obliviousness when they are all together - leaving the children to get up to whatever games they that aren't all that safe it turns out.

I had my theories as to who might be behind everything and even with all the twists and turns, it turned out I was correct, but this in no way detracted from my enjoyment of this book. I thought for sure I was wrong and while I wasn't, I still didn't know the why. This was such a dark, clever book and I know for sure I will be reading more from this author. 

About the author: While working full time as a physician, Jane Shemilt received an M.A. in creative writing. She was shortlisted for the Janklow and Nesbit award and the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize for The Daughter, her first novel. She and her husband, a professor of neurosurgery, have five children and live in Bristol, England.

Author links:  Twitter  | Instagram

Purchase Links:   HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Be sure to check out all the other stops on the blog tour and follow the tour on Twitter (hashtags:  #TLCBookTours & #theplayground).


  1. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my book and leave such great comments. Im thrilled you enjoyed The Playground and shared your thoughts. I am so pleased you found it dark and twisty! Thanks!

  2. Coincidentally, I put up my review of this one today. We were in agreement on the dark and twisty plot.

  3. I didn't like any of these characters but I could not put this down!! Thank you for being on this tour. Sara @ TLC Book Tours


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