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Little Disasters: A Novel Audio CD – Unabridged, 18 August 2020
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Audio CD, Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
- Publisher : Simon & Schuster Audio and Blackstone Publishing; Unabridged edition (18 August 2020)
- Language: : English
- Audio CD : 1 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1508267952
- ISBN-13 : 978-1508267959
- Dimensions : 14.61 x 3.18 x 14.61 cm
- Customer Reviews:
"Skillfully interweaving the story of the unfolding scandal, Vaughan gradually reveals just how shockingly high the stakes are."-- "Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Anatomy of a Scandal"
"Taut, clever, compelling, and guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat."-- " Paula Hawkins, #1 New York Times bestselling author "
About the Author
Sarah Vaughan read English at Oxford and spent eleven years at the Guardian as a news reporter, health correspondent, and political correspondent. She left to freelance and began writing fiction the week, and her debut novel, The Art of Baking Blind, published by Hodder & Stoughton, St. Martins Press, and in seven other languages, was the result.
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Top reviews from Australia
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The story opens with a confronting prologue. A mother trying to soothe her 11 week old baby who refuses to settle. The pleading with the child to stop, the crying that intensifies, the overwhelming feeling of being so incredibly alone day after day and night after night of non-stop crying. Why won't she stop? Why won't she stop? WHY WON't SHE JUST STOP? It is hard hitting and confronting as the reader is left to wonder just what the mother does.
January 2018: Late one evening just as her shift is about to end, hospital paediatrician Liz Trenchard is called to A&E to take a look at a child that has presented with some puzzling symptoms. Walking into the cubicle, Liz is surprised to find her close friend Jess Curtis with her ten month old daughter Betsey sitting there. It seems Betsey has not been too well this evening and after her husband found her in her cot covered in vomit, he urged Jess to bring her in as a matter of caution. Liz examines Betsey and is shocked to discover a soft depressed area of her skull that is tender to the touch, prompting the child to scream. And so after the necessary scans, Liz diagnoses Betsey with a skull fracture. Jess is horrified.
Questions begin to rise immediately as to how Betsey was injured and as Liz questions her, Jess closes herself off and her answers become vague. Liz has no alternative but to report the incident to social services who then alert the police.
But Liz knows Jess, surely. She would never hurt her own child...or any child for that matter. She has always been a cautious mother, even over protective at times, alert to anything and everything that could harm her child. Liz knows Jess is a good mother. But, due to the demanding nature of her profession, Liz hasn't been as present in the past several months since Betsey's birth - who knows how Jess is coping?
The women met in ante-natal classes ten years ago when they were pregnant with their oldest children and along with two other mothers, Mel and Charlotte, have remained friends throughout. They have regular get togethers talking about their children and their milestones as well as socialising together with their respective husbands. But Jess went on to have a third child, where the other women had just two...except Charlotte, who only had the one, and even that was with great difficulty. The women saw each other at the school gates but didn't seem to find the time to check in with each other as much as they used to.
And now, with Betsey in paediatrics ICU and Jess' story about Bets pulling herself up on the fridge and then falling...just doesn't add up. Liz is sure that Jess is hiding something. So what isn't she telling them? She wants to be there for her friend but she also knows that she can't discuss Betsey's case with her...making it especially difficult.
To make matters worse, Jess' private battle is exacerbated by her husband's previous friendship with Charlotte, whom he knew at university. She doesn't believe Ed would be unfaithful to her but Charlotte does have an air about her that speaks volumes...insinuating that their friendship was something more. Should she be worried? But she doesn't have time to worry. Not with the police investigating her for child neglect and possibly injuring her baby girl. Not with all these thoughts racing through her head and her incessant need to ensure her children's safety with the aligning of her rings. One. Two. Three.
Despite her desire to help her friend, Liz knows she must also maintain a professional distance...which isn't helped by her worries for her mother who appears mentally unbalanced as well as drinking herself into oblivion each day. When her mother is rushed to hospital and diagnosed as terminally ill, Liz is confronted with the horrors of her past and old memories begin to resurface. And then on her deathbed, her mother confesses to something so horrific...
How can Liz correlate what her mother has told her with the current circumstances her closest friend now finds herself in? How can she find compassion for a mother that was habitually cruel and abusive towards her and her brother throughout their lives? And how can what has happened to Jess and baby Betsey ever be mended?
But the truth is far closer than anyone thinks. And when Liz uncovers what really happened, there is a collective sigh of relief all round. But is that truly the end of it?
A compelling and emotional story, LITTLE DISASTERS is slow burning but in encapsulates you from very early on that you are invested in what happens from the very beginning. The multiple narratives are cleverly woven together between the past and the present - mainly between Liz, Jess and Ed with the addition of a couple of others throughout that provide their own version of events.
A complex tale about one of the most difficult jobs in the world, LITTLE DISASTERS also highlights the realities of post natal depression and anxiety. A woman's body goes through a multitude of changes throughout pregnancy, giving birth and then thrust into motherhood without an instruction manual, despite having done it twice before. Every pregnancy is different, every birth is different and every baby is different. A woman's mental health is tested to the limits throughout all these changes and sometimes it just becomes too much. It doesn't make them weak or inferior or a bad mother. Hormonal imbalances create a wealth of problems for one's mental health and pregnancy and motherhood is probably one of the biggest challenges of them all. So with my own experience with mental health, I am sure this book provides an accurate and realistic depiction of post natal depression an anxiety.
I am not a mother and yet this book makes me, in some ways, grateful that I am not. I'm not even maternal...unless it has four legs, a tail and goes woof. I was told by my specialist many years ago that I would find motherhood incredibly difficult due to my underlying medical conditions, one of which is my mental health. And in reading Jess' plight in this book I could really identify with her despite not being a mother myself. Those frightening thoughts, that incessant feeling of exhaustion, the never ending cries, the uncontrollable tears, the isolation and the overwhelming feeling of not being good enough...all entwined with her feeling of being out of control. I've no doubt that motherhood is hard...and this book really highlights its difficulties whilst trying to balance everything and find some normality again.
The twist, when it comes, is fairly expected. I'd long since figured out the several twists purely because this isn't a mystery or thriller and if you look hard enough you will see them too. While they are foreseeable, they are still shocking and ultimately still a satisfying end.
Overall, LITTLE DISASTERS is a thought-provoking read that is realistic and heartwrenching at times. Anyone who is a mother will surely recognise the emotions in all its overwhelming glory and quickly identify with Jess and her story.
I do thoroughly recommend this book. It is an eye opening look into the world of post natal depression and anxiety in the form of a thrilling page turning contemporary domestic drama.
The women in this book have been friends since their first antenatal class with their first children. 10 years later and Jess has her third child Betsy who is 10 months old. One night she brings her into the emergency department where her friend Liz is a pediactric doctor. Betsy has been sick and is very unsettled. When Liz find some that the child has a head injury and Jess’ story doesn’t add up she’s has no choice but to report it to social services. What follows is a heart breaking story of what happened to poor Betsy and why. Lies are told and emotions are high.
Thanks to Simon and Schuster UK for my advanced copy of this book to read. All opinions are my own and are in no way biased
Liz has known Jess for a decade. She sees Jess as a capable stay-at-home-mother-of-three. Surely not a woman likely to harm her baby.
But the Jess Liz (and their friends) see is not the way Jess sees herself. Jess is overwhelmed. She has two sons aged eight and ten, and her husband Ed works long hours to support the family. Jess has set impossibly high standards for herself, and when she cannot meet those standards, she punishes herself.
Liz, and the other doctors involved, can only act on what they have seen. Social Services are called in, and Jess’s contact with Betsey is both limited and supervised. Her sister Martha moves in to help.
We can see the pressure that Jess is under, the intrusive feelings she is experiencing, her need to try to control. It is possible, surely, that a mother under such pressure could harm her child. And what should Liz do?
Ms Vaughan maintains the tension in this story. I turned the pages, wondering how it would end, wondering how Betsey was injured. There is a twist in the end that I have mixed feelings about, but other readers may find this twist more emotionally satisfying.
The novel covers several important issues, and ones that many exhausted mothers of newborn babies will be able to relate to. How do we know when we need help, and who can we ask?
Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Atria/Emily Bestler Books for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.
Thanks to Simon and Schuster (Australia) and Netgalley for the arc of this novel.
Top reviews from other countries
Sarah Vaughan’s writing has a really addictive pull to it, and I was immediately sucked into the story. I really felt for Liz when she was put in the situation right at the beginning. I could see that she wanted to help her friend in the best possible way, but I could also see that she had to think professionally about the situation and that she had to think of Betsey as her patient and not as her friend’s daughter. You can see here that the next steps Liz chooses to take will have a huge impact on their friendship for the rest of their lives.
We hear from both Jess and Liz’s point of view. I really struggled to stay on Jess’s side right at the beginning of the book, and I thought that Sarah Vaughan built her story and Liz’s well as the book progressed. There is tension on every page. As I struggled to see Jess’s side of the story, after Liz first interrogated her, I could never be sure if she could actually be dangerous, especially to other members of her family, while Betsey was being treated in hospital. It was the questions about Jess which I still had in my mind which kept me turning the pages and the tension turning up a notch.
This is also a multi-layered story. Liz’s personal story is complex, as well. Sarah Vaughan gradually reveals details about Liz’s past and the devastating events in her childhood which continue to have an effect on her in the future. You can begin to see why she makes some decisions that she does in the present.
I thought both Liz and Jess were two, very well rounded characters whose stories kept me gripped.
Little Disasters is a cleverly constructed page-turner, with the theme of motherhood at its heart that will keep you invested the entire way through. A solid five stars from me!
Throughout Little Disasters, Vaughan addresses many issues, some of which are really important in today's society. Vaughan's research into the themes is really thorough and this allowed me to think more carefully about the impact of issues such as safeguarding and mental illness not only on the families who are going through the issues, but also on the professionals who work with them.
As the novel progresses, the plot takes many turns, often in a really poignant direction. I don't usually cry whilst reading but there were certain points in Little Disasters where I felt my eyes pricking.