Review: Perfect Little Children by Sophie Hannah

Perfect Little Children by Sophie Hannah

Published: February 4, 2020 by William Morrow

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository


Synopsis: All Beth has to do is drive her son to his Under-14s away match, watch him play, and bring him home.

Just because she knows her ex-best friend lives near the football ground, that doesn’t mean she has to drive past her house and try to catch a glimpse of her. Why would Beth do that, and risk dredging up painful memories? She hasn’t seen Flora for twelve years. She doesn’t want to see her today, or ever again.

But she can’t resist. She parks outside the open gates of Newnham House, watches from across the road as Flora and her children Thomas and Emily step out of the car. Except… There’s something terribly wrong. Flora looks the same, only older. As Beth would have expected. It’s the children. Twelve years ago, Thomas and Emily were five and three years old. Today, they look precisely as they did then.

They are still five and three. They are Thomas and Emily without a doubt – Beth hears Flora call them by their names – but they haven’t changed at all.

They are no taller, no older… Why haven’t they grown?

Review: I had quite the journey with this book. Through the first two hours of the audiobook I felt like I was being tortured and interrogated. The entire portion was almost entirely a repeat of “I definitely know what I saw, but it’s impossible, I couldn’t have seen that. But I know I did!” For two hours. I felt like crying in exasperation. At a certain point you just have to accept that you saw something that doesn’t make sense!

Then things started to pick up and I was glad that I hadn’t given up on it. Beth was investigating and running into more things that didn’t make sense. Pieces started falling into place in her head and in mine. I also loved her daughter Zannah. She was so sarcastic and ruthlessly logical. I was so happy when Beth enlisted her help in investigating the mystery because she was amazing. I also enjoyed learning little tidbits about their past relationship with Flora and Louis. What had it been like being their friend all those years ago? Did it shed any light on the situation occurring now? I was fascinated.

I didn’t like how Beth acted like her husband was trying to “mansplain” to her and treating her like she was a hysterical woman though. I mean, Beth was literally stalking two strangers. Following them to their children’s school. Getting into their unlocked car when they stepped away. Going to their home to interrogate their neighbors. Interrogate the school receptionist about their children. He wasn’t wrong (or sexist) to treat her like she was behaving hysterically, she was!

But ultimately, like any book, it comes down to the ending.

SPOILER ALERT!! Spoilers for the ending.

The ending literally made no sense. I had come up with all kinds of options in my head. Obviously since this book had no shades of the paranormal, the children were not the same two children. They were two different children, with the same names and approximate ages of the children Beth had known.

But all of my theories were wrong, instead it was so stupid that I still can’t believe it went there. Louis and Flora had a third child, Georgina, which we learn early on. Louis didn’t like Georgina because she had an eye problem. So he became horribly abusive to Flora, deeming the medical condition to be her fault because she had gotten pregnant after he told her that he didn’t want more children. Louis drugs Flora and then kills Georgina and convinces Flora that she had gotten drunk and rolled over on the baby and smothered her. In order for him not to turn her in for murder, she agrees to cut off all contact with the children and pretend to go away forever. But he occasionally visits to rape and impregnate her against her will and insist that she name the children the same names as their existing children. He’s even hired someone to pretend to be her new husband and keep her in line.

I mean, really? It was all an abusive husband, trying to make his wife miserably because she gave birth to a cross-eyed baby? That was so incredibly stupid that I just couldn’t get past it. It didn’t matter how compelling the middle of the book was because it flubbed it when it matter.


6 thoughts on “Review: Perfect Little Children by Sophie Hannah

  1. There is a real problem with audiobooks: the inability to skip ahead. I don’t like audio in general for that reason – my brain and its pace are not good with each other. I am now used to streaming video – and find it irritating to go back to someone else controlling the playback.

    This is bizarre. This is the kind of thing that traditional publishers are putting out on the market? I’m wondering what it is they’re rejecting!

    Kind of makes me angry.

    I’m grateful you’ve taken the hit for the rest of us – and popped over to Amazon to see that it has a 3.8 overall rating with 45% 5* ratings and reviews. The author is ‘a NYTimes Bestselling author.’

    I find this is true for a lot of books that must be making their writers a lot of money (at least in the traditional publishing sense).

    No book will be universally loved, obviously, but I’m wondering about the readers.

    1. It is quite astonishing sometimes the things that get published. I wonder if traditional publishers are trying so hard to find something new and innovative that they are overlooking quality. It makes me wary of new books sometimes.

      Generally I listen to audio while I’m working my actual day job. That way I don’t have to pay complete attention if things aren’t drawing me in, but enough attention that I know what’s going on.

      1. Thank you! Reviewing can be a lot of work, gathering my thoughts and trying to put them together in a coherent fashion. I also enjoy it, even if no one else ever reads my opinions, I like putting them out there.

  2. Thank you! It was recommended on one of those magazine must-reads so I rented it from the library. I could tell right away that I was going to have trouble reading it. It’s just not… my style of writing. But I was intrigued. A quick google search gave me this post (with spoiler alerts) so here I am. I almost stopped reading the review when you said you got into the middle of it. I thought about giving it a chance. Thank goodness I read on….I would’ve been pretty upset to have invested so much time in that ending. Thanks for saving me the trouble.

    1. Thank you! I always try to aim to be fair, but sometimes a book just isn’t good and I see no reason to sugar coat that.

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