Every mum has left their young child with a neighbour whilst running to the shops for supplies. Then school starts and parents begin to assert themselves in the role of top parent, volunteering at the school, going to coffee mornings and organising play dates, soon to be followed by the sleepover in order to cement their child’s social presence within a class unit.
Millar has written a contemporary thriller which delves into the unfaltering trust many parents put in others to care for their own children.
Callie feels ostracised for being a single parent, always on the outside, never quite able to fit in with the other middle class north London mums. Alone, with a daughter who has a serious medical condition, Callie seeks solace elsewhere. When an American woman arrives to live opposite her they form a close friendship. Callie begins to lean on Suzy, the married mother of three, depending on her for support and friendship. Suzy’s son Henry and Callie’s daughter Rae get on well, attending the same class at school. They have an easy relationship popping in and out of each other’s homes, but then Debs moves in next door to Suzy.
Callie turns up on Debs door proffering a lasagne and a bottle of wine to welcome her to the street, but Debs seems unnerved by her presence. An incident in her past has made her highly strung. Debs is determined to start afresh in this new location with her husband of six months by her side.
The book is told from the point of view of the three main characters, Callie, Suzy and Debs. As this psychological thriller builds the chapters get shorter, the reader hears from each character in short bursts, adding to the final climax of the book.
The book preys on every parent’s worst nightmare. Who do you trust with your child? What if? How well do you know other parents?
Friendship also plays a central role in this book. The way parents, particularly mums, assimilate into their new role as mum of a school aged child. It will certainly make you think twice before organising the next play date or sleepover for your child.
The Playdate is set in north London to the backdrop of one of the its best known features, Alexandra Palace, the people’s palace, even the local Brent Cross shopping centre gets a mention. If you are a north Londoner you will recognise many of the surroundings Millar describes.
Debut author Louise Millar has written a thought provoking thriller that grips the reader from start to finish. It will unsettle you and leave you rattled for some time.
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