Today dear readers I am on the Penguin blog tour for The Perfect Life (Published 22 July 2021) By Nuala Ellwood. A big thank you to the publishers, Penguin for my copy to read and review, always appreciated. Also for the invite to be on the tour, thank you.
The Perfect Life
HAVE YOU EVER WANTED TO BE SOMEONE ELSE?
Vanessa has always found it easy to pretend to be somebody different, somebody better. When things get tough in her real life, all she has to do is throw on some nicer clothes, adopt a new accent and she can escape.
That’s how it started: looking round houses she couldn’t possibly afford. Harmless fun really. Until it wasn’t.
Because a man who lived in one of those houses is dead.
And everyone thinks Vanessa killed him…
About The Author
Nuala Ellwood is the author of three bestselling novels: My Sister’s Bones for which she was selected as one of the Observer‘s ‘New Faces of Fiction 2017’, Day of the Accident and The House on the Lake. Nuala lives in York with her young son.
Vanessa Adams has always loved stories and creating characters. She loves the thrill of pretending to be someone else, living a completely different life. At a glance Vanessa appears to have it all. A job as a successful marketing manager at Luna London, a devoted and caring friend in Lottie, her flatmate and is completely loved up with her boyfriend Connor. So you are shocked to discover she is suspected of the murder of Geoffrey Rivers, the famous children’s author that Vanessa read growing up. Found dead at his home in Hampstead everything points to Vanessa. You are left wondering just how far she is willing to go to obtain the perfect life.
The narrative switches between the present, Now in 2018 with Vanessa being questioned by the police about Geoffrey’s murder to Then, 2017 when her life slowly started to unravel. There is also the occasional flashback to her childhood, remembering her mum listening to the radio in the kitchen as they ate jam on toast. Happier, simpler times.
Vanessa as a character is intriguing to follow. The reader witnesses everything from her point of view and starts to become concerned for her mental health when she starts to sneak off alone to view houses on the market. She becomes a woman obsessed with following hashtags on instagram and finding the perfect home. It becomes like a drug, each time she attends a viewing she gets a high, a purpose to work towards and keeps signing up for more. She wants to feel in control of her own destiny. As much as she loves stories that take her into a dream world, these worlds are unattainable. Not wanting to be found out she starts to create a number of characters, complete with backstories that she rolls off her tongue at each viewing. She is a lost creature, wandering alone in the darkness longing to find the light to lead her home. It’s hard not to form an attachment when you hear how she lost her mother and was raised by her older sister, Georgie. Vanessa loves old things, houses, ghost tales, antique furniture, things that tell a story and have a meaning. She finds it comforting and safe. It is the present that’s the problem.
Ellwood has written Vanessa much like a nervous and frightened child. As an adult she has a lack of confidence that stems from her childhood. She feels like everyone else received a set of instructions on how to dress, what music to like and how to go through life. She blames herself for the events that happen to her and starts to doubt her own sanity, questioning if she is losing her mind. The reader is led to believe that Vanessa wants what most people want in life, a loving family, the perfect home and a successful career. However as events start to turn in motion we start to question if she possibly is the villain of the story. Much like Grimm’s fairy tales that Vanessa is fond of with good vs evil the main character wasn’t always as sweet as they made out and was hiding their true nature from the reader. But who is the good guy and who is the bad guy? Ellwood keeps you guessing, wondering if you should be trusting Vanessa or suspecting her. It plays with your mind. And I loved every second of it! What I enjoy most about how Ellwood has written Vanessa is that she is a survivor and fights for her rights. She never gives up, even when the odds are stacked up against her.
I loved how dark the story becomes at points. Cloaked and hooded it sneaks up on the reader and overpowers them with fear. There were moments when I felt the icy breath of death upon my neck, taunting me that things may not end well for dear old Vanessa. Ellwood lures the reader into a false sense of security and then pounces, striking to kill. She keeps you hooked, hanging on every word, desperate to uncover the truth. And WOW it will shock you dear reader.
I give The Perfect Life By Nuala Ellwood a Five out of Five paw rating.
You could not prise this book off me, I was addicted. I had to know what happened. I needed to know. Filled with intense, heart pounding moments that will make you question everything, you will not want to put this book down. I have major panda eyes going on as I could not rest until I reached the end. I absolutely loved it! Bravo!
Don’t forget to follow the rest of the tour, dates below, enjoy!
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