The playground is a wild place.
At first glance it gleams with the promise of adventures in the hidden nooks beyond the grasp of adults. You can hear the pealing laughter of children from these sheltered posts where adults sit on the far end of the playground benches satisfied in the seeming innocence of their young lambs.
Yet, by contented thoughts or preoccupied actions, the adults do not rouse themselves to see that something sinister is afoot among the young where a calculating mind deals with sharp metals and final breaths.
Jane Shemilt is able to weave a modern Lord of The Flies where Machiavellian minds and secrets lead to tragic circumstances. This is a work that will send your pulse racing with every page as you delve into the lives of three different women from various circumstances and how their families crash together like a mist on a cliff towards an uncertain end.
Prepare to enter these playground gates...just beware the games that the children play.
About The Playground
by Jane Shemilt
Paperback: 384 pages Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (December 30, 2019)
“Beautifully written and suffused with dread. Jane Shemilt’s domestic settings are seductively vivid, and the final outcome is profoundly shocking and terrifying.” — Gilly Macmillan, New York Times bestselling author of The Nanny
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?
Photo by Kate Shemilt
About Jane Shemilt
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.
Thank you to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow Books for sharing this thrilling read! As always, all thoughts and opinions of the book are of my own!