“In a culture that fetishises motherhood, Sarah Vaughan’s novel is an invaluable corrective, a warning about the terrible effects parenting can have on mental health. It is also a very cunningly plotted mystery.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan is an emotionally charged book that captivated me from the beginning and had me so gripped that I was compelled to read it in a single sitting. I really felt for all of the characters, and could completely empathise with the scenarios they found themselves in.
Liz is a paediatric registrar in the last few months of her training before becoming a consultant. Its a tough job that takes its toll on her physically and emotionally and also takes a toll on her family life. The last thing she expected was to see her friend Jess in the emergency room with a sick baby and a story that doesn’t quite add up. When tests show that baby Betsey has a skull fracture, Liz has no option but to involve social services despite doubting that the woman she has known for years could possibly have harmed her child.
Jess has been struggling since the birth of Betsey, a third child that has upset the balance of her previously ordered family life. Plagued by doubts , insecurity and anxiety could she possibly have hurt her baby, even her husband is starting to wonder if he has missed the danger signs.
This is a story all about motherhood, and one that more often focuses on the struggles than the joys- the struggles of balancing work and family life, the struggle of coping with a baby when you feel alone and overwhelmed and even the struggle of trying to have a baby when it seems so easy for other people. All that being said, it is not a book that one needs to be a mother to enjoy, the author does a wonderful job of painting those struggles for the reader, making it easy to see why her characters do what they do , and making the reader feel for them in their difficulties.
It is a domestic drama rather than a thriller but it is none the less a gripping and engaging read, and at times heartbreaking as the true events of what happened that tragic day are revealed.
I will say that I think the author took the story just one twist too far, for me it would have had a stronger ending and more impact without the final revelation which felt a little forced.
I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.
Added 26th May 2020