Sunday, December 7, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Perfect Mother

This is a review of The Perfect Mother by Nina Darnton. I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Jennifer Lewis is wakened at midnight by a distressing call from her daughter, Emma, who is studying abroad in Spain. Emma has been arrested after the brutal murder of another student. Jennifer rushes to her side, certain that the police have made a horrible mistake. But as the case unravels, Jennifer starts to realize how much she didn't know about her daughter and starts to have her doubts about her innocence.

This is a story about murder and motherhood. The story is told from Jennifer's point of view and the book delves deeply into how the murder accusations effect the accused's family. I was interested in the storyline and figuring our whether Emma was innocent or guilty. But there was something about the book that put me off a little. I am sure everyone has heard the motto for writers: show, don't tell. Well this author did not show very much. For instance, when the author was describing some of the landmarks or customs in Spain, she sounded like more of a tour guide. When I read books set in other locations, especially when those locations are other countries, I enjoy authors who can transplant me to that place with their words. This book did not do that.

Now of course this book was about more than just the location, but that is just an example of where the author fell flat in her descriptions of things. I really disliked the character of Jennifer. It was hard to connect with her because the author also did not describe Jennifer's feelings very well. There would be long conversations with dialogue only, no descriptions of facial expressions, emotions or anything. So the only way I knew Jennifer was feeling was when she actually told someone about it. And Jennifer seemed way more blind to her daughters' faults than most mothers. Every single time something happened (and there are flashbacks of other events that happened throughout Emma's childhood), Jennifer would make excuses and say there was a mistake, despite irrefutable evidence to the contrary. That got really old. Jennifer's decision at the end of the book shocked me and furthered my dislike of her. I don't want to say too much about that because I don't want to give away the ending to those who may choose to read the book.

I give this book a 1/5.


  1. Unlike you I enjoyed this book but that just goes to show how different aspects appeal to different people. I didn't like Jennifer much either but I understood how she felt that she'd failed, hence the going over long ago events, and therefore she'd modelled herself as a perfect mother for so long that she felt lost, hence the diversion she took while in Spain. I'm still not entirely sure about the ending either though. Great balanced review despite our differing opinion, even as I read this one I did think this would be a love or hate type of book mainly due to the dislikeable characters!

  2. Thanks Cleo! I am glad you enjoyed it, but it just wasn't for me. To each their own, right? There are just some books that are going to be a love them or hate them kind of thing. And maybe it's because I am not a mother that I didn't like her and couldn't relate. Who knows? :)

    1. Maybe or perhaps it just wasn't your type of book. We are all individuals after all.

  3. Great review! I think we're in sync on this one. I just didn't think Jennifer was well-defined as a character, and she seemed to live in a permanent state of denial. I never felt any sympathy for Emma, and it was hard to see how Jennifer could believe the things she did. Plus her whole infatuation was ridiculous.