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The Playground

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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 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?


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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 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?

30 review for The Playground

  1. 4 out of 5

    Berit☀️✨

    What a wild ride, this is a playground you want to avoid taking your children to! You know how you feel when you get off one of those playground merry go rounds? A little shook, a little queasy, a little unstable, A little flustered, that’s how I felt after reading this book. Three couples Meat and form a fast friendship. Their children all get along so well and this leads to barbecues, dinners, and even vacations together. All three couples are very different, but they are all very damaged and What a wild ride, this is a playground you want to avoid taking your children to! You know how you feel when you get off one of those playground merry go rounds? A little shook, a little queasy, a little unstable, A little flustered, that’s how I felt after reading this book. Three couples Meat and form a fast friendship. Their children all get along so well and this leads to barbecues, dinners, and even vacations together. All three couples are very different, but they are all very damaged and have some major secrets. What follows is a story full of deceit and tragedy. I would classify this as a dark domestic drama, despicable characters doing questionable things. I found myself shaking my head at these characters several times, I could not believe how involved they were in their own lives and how oblivious they were to what was going on with these kids. There are several tragedies in this story and I am still a little confused as to the reaction of some of the characters. This is one of those books where you don’t necessarily like any of the characters, but the story is so compelling you just have to find out what the heck is going on. The story jumps between multiple perspectives and I have to admit I found this a little confusing in the beginning. There are a lot of characters and I couldn’t exactly figure out whose kid belonged to who for the first little bit, but once I did it became a little more clear. This book really kind of made me think about people’s priorities and made me put myself in these character’s shoes. Some actions are a little more forgivable than others, I’m still a little angry with some of these characters. A twisty story with a disturbing ending that still has me reeling. 🎧🎧🎧 This Book was narrated by Elizabeth Knowelden Who I thought did a wonderful job. There really is nothing better than having a book set in England read to you in an English accent! This book in emojis 😕 😖 😩 🙄 😬 😦 *** Big thanks to William Morrow and Harper Audio for my copy of this book ***

  2. 4 out of 5

    Faith

    Three families were brought together by a tutoring program for dyslexic children. There were 6 children (aged 3 to 13) and 3 sets of neglectful parents. One child went missing and then a second child went missing. Despite the fact that the culprit was obvious from the beginning, this was still an entertaining domestic suspense novel. It never veered too far into the territory of women’s fiction. The characters were self-involved twits, but they weren’t idiots. The pacing of the novel was brisk. Three families were brought together by a tutoring program for dyslexic children. There were 6 children (aged 3 to 13) and 3 sets of neglectful parents. One child went missing and then a second child went missing. Despite the fact that the culprit was obvious from the beginning, this was still an entertaining domestic suspense novel. It never veered too far into the territory of women’s fiction. The characters were self-involved twits, but they weren’t idiots. The pacing of the novel was brisk. The blurb describes the book as “Big Little Lies meets Lord of the Flies”. I disagree. The book is more like Truly Madly Guilty. And forget the Lord of the Flies reference. I would read more by this author. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mackenzie - PhDiva Books

    Oh what a tangled web of secrets are woven among three couples brought together by their kids, but held together by their actions… Until something shocking occurs… This is quite a book! A character-driven novel of suspense that will suck you right in! I loved the title for this book, The Playground, because it is the sort of metaphor that worked on many levels. And no, it isn’t a physical playground the way you would think of it. But what sort of playground games do you think might arise in a Oh what a tangled web of secrets are woven among three couples brought together by their kids, but held together by their actions… Until something shocking occurs… This is quite a book! A character-driven novel of suspense that will suck you right in! I loved the title for this book, The Playground, because it is the sort of metaphor that worked on many levels. And no, it isn’t a physical playground the way you would think of it. But what sort of playground games do you think might arise in a book about three couples and their secrets and deception? What do kids get up to when left to their own devices? Who becomes the alpha? Eve is a wealthy stay at home mom to three children (though I wouldn’t say she is very attentive to her kids). They are left to roam the outdoors while she begins tutoring children with dyslexia at her sprawling estate. Grace sends her eleven year-old son for tutoring, and her daughter comes along as well. Of course, as Grace is the employed parent, her husband takes care of the drop-offs at Eve’s home, leaving plenty of space for her husband and Eve to get to know one another… Melissa is an interior designer who also brings her daughter for tutoring at Eve’s and is thrilled to learn her daughter is becoming friends with the other girls. Afterall, her daughter has always been a bit shy. As the summer progresses, the couples become friends. And that is truly when things begin to unravel. These were not the most attentive parents! They are wrapped up in their friendships and secrets, and the kids are left to their own devices. (Latchkey kids, they used to call them) The alcohol flows, vacations are taken, dinners are had, and eventually an illicit relationship forms. Meanwhile, the kids have their own secrets… This is one of those grab-your-popcorn novels, because it is a look into the salacious secrets that hide behind closed doors. The characters were complex and the events of the novel were shocking and engaging. I wanted to know where it was headed, and I could see an inevitable crash of some kind on the horizon. This is tautly wound novel filled with tension that had me on the edge of my seat! A twisted domestic suspense novel that you won’t want to miss! Thank you to TLC Book Tours for my spot on the tour. Opinions are my own.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)

    AH-HA-HA-HA - I KNEW IT!!! **points finger and then shakes fist** What an interesting web you weave, Shemilt! The synopsis definitely says best when it comes to Big Little Lies feels because those are definitely all there! These parents are the worst. I mean, they don't mean to be but they're so busy dealing with their own issues to really pay attention to their children. Then again, what's really right or wrong - every one has a different parenting technique. I don't even want to blame them AH-HA-HA-HA - I KNEW IT!!! **points finger and then shakes fist** What an interesting web you weave, Shemilt! The synopsis definitely says best when it comes to Big Little Lies feels because those are definitely all there! These parents are the worst. I mean, they don't mean to be but they're so busy dealing with their own issues to really pay attention to their children. Then again, what's really right or wrong - every one has a different parenting technique. I don't even want to blame them *too* much even though there are definitely some that I just wanna slap silly. Listen, this is a fun read. We get various POVs with occasional breaks between fuller chapters of the kids thoughts. I'm not *quite* sure if I liked those - I think they either should've been elaborated on a little bit or just left out altogether. They didn't really lend a whole lot to my personal reading experience. There are also a few things that didn't seem to make sense... like that random raisin you find in a chocolate chip cookie. Here's the thing. I figured this one out very early on. But that's ok. I don't mind figuring things out as long as the rest of the ride is still a fun one to be on. This one is a bit bumpy at times but phew. I think I had love/hate relationships with almost all the characters and just needed a bit more. With everything going on, some things didn't get fully fleshed out. I may have almost liked it more if it had been written more from the kids' perspectives. And while I have a lot of why why why going on in my head by certain things, sometimes it's better to just enjoy the journey. A good read for those who like those domestic dramas with a touch of evilness. Avid thriller readers may find this easily predictable and not as *full* as they would otherwise prefer.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Borsey

    A well written disturbing story about horrible people making horrible decisions and the life altering consequences that occur. I thank Librarything and Jane Shemilt for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    There’s a lot of things I’m not sure about in The Playground. I’m not sure if there’s really a plot line for the first half of the book. The characters, adults and children both, just go in circles around each other, manipulating and contriving. I’m not really sure what the title has to do with the book unless it’s a metaphor, since the playground built for the youngest child barely makes an appearance. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to like any of the characters since most of them are weak-willed There’s a lot of things I’m not sure about in The Playground. I’m not sure if there’s really a plot line for the first half of the book. The characters, adults and children both, just go in circles around each other, manipulating and contriving. I’m not really sure what the title has to do with the book unless it’s a metaphor, since the playground built for the youngest child barely makes an appearance. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to like any of the characters since most of them are weak-willed or power hungry, and some just get worse as the story goes on. I find Grace the most interesting and complex, which isn’t hard, since most of the characters are pretty one dimensional to me throughout most of the book. I kept waiting for some of the other characters to become more likable after tragedy strikes the collective group, but they’re so wrapped up in themselves that tragedy strikes a second time, right under their noses and finally wakes them up that bad things are happening. It's unfortunate that the book didn't become compelling until the last 100 pages or so, because pretty much the only thing I’m sure of is that I probably wouldn’t have gotten to that point if I wasn’t reviewing it as an ARC.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

    Three families’ lives become increasingly intertwined when they meet during tutoring sessions for their children. Throughout the summer and into the fall, the adults become more and more preoccupied with each other, leaving the kids to amuse themselves. But what exactly are the kids up to? This was a somewhat dark and twisted story that was the quick read that I needed after a couple of heavier reads. I’d figured out the mystery early on, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment as I watched Three families’ lives become increasingly intertwined when they meet during tutoring sessions for their children. Throughout the summer and into the fall, the adults become more and more preoccupied with each other, leaving the kids to amuse themselves. But what exactly are the kids up to? This was a somewhat dark and twisted story that was the quick read that I needed after a couple of heavier reads. I’d figured out the mystery early on, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment as I watched these dysfunctional, self-absorbed, rather unlikeable adults spin out of control, leaving the kids to their own devices. It was a bit like a car accident: you don’t want to look, yet you can’t look away. It was just what I was in the mood for, and it kept me turning the pages to see how it was going to play out. If you want some lessons on how to be a bad parent, look no further, LOL!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Crystal Zavala

    Rating somewhere between 2.5-3 The Playground features three families that live in the surrounding areas of London. Eve and Eric have three children, Melissa and Paul have a teenage daughter, and Grace and Martin have two children. The three families are brought together because they all have a child who has dyslexia. Eve is a teacher and stay-at-home mom who has decided to start tutoring her oldest daughter and other dyslexic children. From the outside, each of these families seem normal and Rating somewhere between 2.5-3⭐ The Playground features three families that live in the surrounding areas of London. Eve and Eric have three children, Melissa and Paul have a teenage daughter, and Grace and Martin have two children. The three families are brought together because they all have a child who has dyslexia. Eve is a teacher and stay-at-home mom who has decided to start tutoring her oldest daughter and other dyslexic children. From the outside, each of these families seem normal and adjusted. On in the inside, dysfunction rules. The Playground rotates perspectives between the three woman. It is clear from the beginning that something has happened that involves the police, but it is unclear to whom or what. The book is full of drama and self-absorbed adults who don't see that their children are playing dangerous games. The rotating perspectives were a bit disjointed at first and I had trouble keeping track of who was who. (Side note: I have a habit of writing on bookmarks when this happens. Then I can start keeping them straight.) Occasionally there would be short paragraphs from the kids' perspectives. In the end, I think I would have preferred the entire book to be written from the kids' perspective or even switch to the kids' perspective later on in the book. Clearly the kids were up to something while the parents were distracted by their own dramas. This book had so much potential. In the end it was full of loose ends and unnecessary plot lines. I actually had to reach out to another book reviewer before I wrote this review because I needed to put my thoughts in order. The title doesn't seem to have anything to do with the book. And the synopsis states that there are 5 kids, when there are clearly 6 (I hope this is caught before final publication). TW: Implied sexual assault, rape, physical and emotional abuse

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Even though this was a fiction book, it was very disturbing. Once I started reading this book I could not put it down. There is so much going on in this story it made me angry at times and sad at times and even sick to my stomach at other times. How parents can let there children out of there site and not know what they are up to at all times is a scary thought. This book takes things up 10 notches. This is a fantastic story! I was a little disappointed in the ending but it was such an amazing Even though this was a fiction book, it was very disturbing. Once I started reading this book I could not put it down. There is so much going on in this story it made me angry at times and sad at times and even sick to my stomach at other times. How parents can let there children out of there site and not know what they are up to at all times is a scary thought. This book takes things up 10 notches. This is a fantastic story! I was a little disappointed in the ending but it was such an amazing read that by the time the end come I was ok with it. I will defiantly be reading Jame Shemilt's other book very soon.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Christine Moore

    Three families and their children become close over the course of a summer. The parents become too focused on their selves and leave the children too much freedom. When bad things start to happen the parents are devastated. The truth is much worse than they originally thought. This was a good thriller but at times, the story doesn't make as much sense as it should. Some of the characters actions are very questionable. I received an advanced readers copy and all opinions are my own.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    A new friendship between three sets of parents and six children develops when one child in each family takes part in tutoring for dyslexia. To say these families are different is putting it mildly. We have: -Eve, living well on her trust fund and her husband Eric, a landscaper. They live in a large but messy house with their three children Eve believes that children shouldn't lead structured lives and should be free to play without parental interference. -Melissa is an interior decorator who lives A new friendship between three sets of parents and six children develops when one child in each family takes part in tutoring for dyslexia. To say these families are different is putting it mildly. We have: -Eve, living well on her trust fund and her husband Eric, a landscaper. They live in a large but messy house with their three children Eve believes that children shouldn't lead structured lives and should be free to play without parental interference. -Melissa is an interior decorator who lives her life very strictly and tries her best to stay out of Paul's way. Paul is an abuser to his wife but very close to their daughter Izzy. -Grace and Martin have two children. She is from Zimbabwe and works to keep the family fed and taken care of. He is an author who has had one big book and appears to be having a major writer's block as he tries and fails on his second book. Grace is also a writer but doesn't have time or energy to write after her long days at work. Over the course of the summer, the six adults all become closer and even go to Greece on vacation. The unsupervised children also grow close but what is really going on with the kids. Is it simple hide and seek or is there something much more sinister going on? The story twists and turns while the three families 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 while they weren't paying attention. Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kristin (Always With a Book)

    What a wild, crazy ride this book is! If you like Big Little Lies than this is definitely your type of read, but just know, it's a touch darker, but so addicting! You know when you see a car wreck and you just can't help but look? That's this story and I mean that in the best possible way. This book completely captured my attention and not necessarily because I liked the characters but because of all the hints of what was to come - I love books like that - it just gets under my skin and I What a wild, crazy ride this book is! If you like Big Little Lies than this is definitely your type of read, but just know, it's a touch darker, but so addicting! You know when you see a car wreck and you just can't help but look? That's this story and I mean that in the best possible way. This book completely captured my attention and not necessarily because I liked the characters but because of all the hints of what was to come - I love books like that - it just gets under my skin and I desperately need to know what has happened and why. With those hints, you know it can't all be good. You get the sense of foreboding and perhaps you pick up a few clues here and there but can you put it all together? These characters are not the most likeable, I'll be honest, but they do have this power over you where you want to know all their secrets because they all have them. Each of these families may seem normal on the outside, but behind closed doors it is anything but. It is clear that they all have some form of dysfunction in their lives and perhaps that leads to the obliviousness when they are all together - leaving the children to get up to whatever games they want...games that aren't all that safe it turns out. I had my theories as to who might be behind everything and even with all the twists and turns, it turned out I was correct, but this in no way detracted from my enjoyment of this book. I thought for sure I was wrong and while I wasn't, I still didn't know the why. This was such a dark, clever book and I know for sure I will be reading more from this author. Thank you to William Morrow Books & TLC Book Tours for providing me with a free review copy! My reviews can also be found on my blog: Always With a Book

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    Started off slow in the beginning but I spent my entire Sunday finishing up. Everyone's point of view kept me engrossed and I was really sad and really angry at different parts. I kind of pieced it all together early on but the story telling was really good and kept me wanting more.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    Domestic drama that illustrates just what can happen when adults are not paying attention to what is going on with their children. The evil might not come from the outside... A close circle develops around Sunday tutoring when a stay-at-home mom starts giving special help to children who have dyslexia. Eve (married to Eric) comes from money and has a lovely home complete with woods, pond and donkeys. She loves cooking and allows her own children (Poppy, Sorrel and baby Ash) a lot of freedom to Domestic drama that illustrates just what can happen when adults are not paying attention to what is going on with their children. The evil might not come from the outside... A close circle develops around Sunday tutoring when a stay-at-home mom starts giving special help to children who have dyslexia. Eve (married to Eric) comes from money and has a lovely home complete with woods, pond and donkeys. She loves cooking and allows her own children (Poppy, Sorrel and baby Ash) a lot of freedom to run around the property secure in the safety of her life. The children who come on Sunday quickly become tight knit while their parents drift in and out of Eve's home. There's Paul and Melissa, he's an architect and she's a designer, and their daughter, Izzy. Novelist Martin is married to Grace who works to support the family while he attempts to write, and their two children Charley and Blake. While the adults are absorbed with themselves and each other, the children are left to their own devices. And that benign neglect leads to tragedy. Someone should have been watching the kids. NO SPOILERS. I found this to be intriguing at first and then maddening as it became obvious what was going on. There were a lot of characters to get to know and different points of view in the narration to adjust to, but I never really related to any of them. The children needed supervising, that was obvious, and the parents kept on blithely getting drunk, forming illicit relationships, or just not paying attention. I couldn't understand why no one was taking care of them, asking them questions, being more observant. It mystified me how the truth could go unnoticed for so long. I like suspenseful thrillers and I might have quit reading had I not agreed to write a review and also having a compulsion to finish every book I start. I wanted to like it more than I did and the vague ending left me a bit unsettled. Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins for this e-book ARC to read and review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Diana Cosmin

    Started off with a “Big Little Lies” vibe, but then the plot turned boring and clumsy. The characters are totally unlikable and I figured out who “the evil” is from the first 20 pages. And not because I put together some amazingly difficult clues, but because it was blatantly obvious. Disappointing ending also.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kristi

    First Sentence: It was surprising how quickly things took off in the end, like a bonfire, one of those big ones the children loved so much." The Playground by Jane Shemilt is an insightful story that explores how engrossed some can become in their own needs and desires, and what is perceived as happiness that they ignore the glaring signs that all is not what it should be with those closest to them. The story centers around three couples that form an unlikely yet close friendship when their First Sentence: It was surprising how quickly things took off in the end, like a bonfire, one of those big ones the children loved so much." The Playground by Jane Shemilt is an insightful story that explores how engrossed some can become in their own needs and desires, and what is perceived as happiness that they ignore the glaring signs that all is not what it should be with those closest to them. The story centers around three couples that form an unlikely yet close friendship when their children are part of the same Sunday tutoring group. Over the course of a few months, they are soon eating weekday meals together, ferrying each other’s children around and going on vacations together. It’s not long before fractures occur in each family, the fracture lines always there but now becoming more visible as their new friendships develop; each family has some level of dysfunction but some are far worse than others. When a tragic series of events occur, it leads to questions and suspicion but this is where Ms. Shemilt has mastered the art of the Red-herring! The characters are well-rounded, flawed, and at times despicable. There are times when I thought it wasn’t possible to be that oblivious but it’s always easy on the outside looking in. One thing becomes obvious, someone is paying attention to the dalliances and weaknesses of others and will use this knowledge to manipulate and destroy until they get what they want. This is a page-turner and I think a great read for any fan of the genre. I know I’ll be reading more from Ms. Shemilt. A big thank you to Edelweiss, Harper Collins Publishers, and William Morrow for providing me with a copy of The Playground to read and review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Valerie in Nebraska

    It’s been quite some time since I read a domestic thriller. This was the perfect book for a cold, rainy, dark weekend. In this novel, readers spend a year with three families who primarily live in London. Proximity and the educational needs of their children bring them together; when their lives become fully enmeshed, things begin to go horribly wrong. Since this is a thriller, I knew bad things would happen - most happen to children so be advised. The title of this novel is odd, but I love the It’s been quite some time since I read a domestic thriller. This was the perfect book for a cold, rainy, dark weekend. In this novel, readers spend a year with three families who primarily live in London. Proximity and the educational needs of their children bring them together; when their lives become fully enmeshed, things begin to go horribly wrong. Since this is a thriller, I knew bad things would happen - most happen to children so be advised. The title of this novel is odd, but I love the tag line: “Who is watching your children?” I thought this was well plotted and mostly believable.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brittany Prescott

    One word for this book: Predictable! Very unsettling, dark and at times I could barely stomach it. The characters were all extremely irresponsible and self absorbed and I think that was the hardest thing for me to deal as a parent, while reading this book. I wanted to reach into the story and physically shake some of these parents for their lack of attention to their children. All of that aside once you get through the slow intro, the story increases in intensity and no matter how many dark topics One word for this book: Predictable! Very unsettling, dark and at times I could barely stomach it. The characters were all extremely irresponsible and self absorbed and I think that was the hardest thing for me to deal as a parent, while reading this book. I wanted to reach into the story and physically shake some of these parents for their lack of attention to their children. All of that aside once you get through the slow intro, the story increases in intensity and no matter how many dark topics were brought to light.. I had to read to get to the end. I finished the last 200 pages in less than a day. It did keep my attention and leave me wanting answers. Sadly, I called the big “twist” from the beginning which I was disappointed in.. I wanted more of a build up of an ending for this book especially after all the horrid things the characters went through but felt that the ending was very lacking for me! This was a buddy read, a friend and I had read another book by the same author called The Daughter and were disappointed in it and thought we’d give the author another try and at this point I’m sorry to say that although this book was a higher rating for me, I still am not sure I’d recommend it to a fellow reader. I’ve posted trigger warnings before but this book has it all, if you are affected in any way by the following: rap, childhood trauma, abuse, possible loss of a child, alcoholism and just very vivid assault this book is NOT for you. I will say my anxiety was through the roof with this read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Ward

    3.5 Stars 'The Playground' is an adrenaline-fueled mystery full of twists and turns that fans of domestic suspense thrillers will definitely enjoy. The cast of characters is pretty large - consisting of three sets of parents and their children. There are quite a few people to keep track of and it could get a bit confusing if you didn't have a good grasp of who was who from the beginning. I found that most of the characters - the parents and the children - were all rounded and definitely complex 3.5 Stars 'The Playground' is an adrenaline-fueled mystery full of twists and turns that fans of domestic suspense thrillers will definitely enjoy. The cast of characters is pretty large - consisting of three sets of parents and their children. There are quite a few people to keep track of and it could get a bit confusing if you didn't have a good grasp of who was who from the beginning. I found that most of the characters - the parents and the children - were all rounded and definitely complex and overall realistic. They each had flaws and make mistakes, which made them easy to empathize with and connect with. There were so many various characters that each had so much potential but not enough pages to get to really know or understand them. The major plot isn't a new one - it's one where three families become very close over the course of the summer and things go downhill and become downright crazy by the end of the book. I did like how the author made each of the characters unique and each of their situations realistic. It was all very easy to imagine it happening in real life. There were parts that had me in complete disbelief, lots of twists and turns I didn't see coming, but there were also parts that I figured out way in advance and could see coming a mile away. I wish that the book had more twisty parts that kept me guessing - that's my favorite kind of mystery/thriller. Overall, it's a good domestic suspense that fans of that genre and readers who enjoy mysteries, thrillers, contemporary fiction, and suspense will enjoy. Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    First off--what is with the title? There is not one playground mentioned in this book, it has nothing to do with playgrounds. I'd call this a domestic thriller, set within a group of people who meet when they sign their children up for dyslexia tutoring (which is never really mentioned much except that it was a reason why they got together at first). The couples kind of become friends because their children become friends and everything goes from there. I saw where it was going from a mile away, First off--what is with the title? There is not one playground mentioned in this book, it has nothing to do with playgrounds. I'd call this a domestic thriller, set within a group of people who meet when they sign their children up for dyslexia tutoring (which is never really mentioned much except that it was a reason why they got together at first). The couples kind of become friends because their children become friends and everything goes from there. I saw where it was going from a mile away, but it was still a decent and readable thriller overall. A few too many characters and none of the adults are very good parents. They are all so totally wrapped up in themselves and their issues (sometimes rightfully so, but still) that they don't have a clue what is going on with their kids. And the kids were a bit too smart for their own good, I find it implausible that all of them were able to lie so easily and hide what was actually going on. Some of the subject matter, especially with domestic violence, is too vividly described for me and made those parts difficult to stomach. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, all opinions are my own.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ilene Harris

    “The Playground” Starts when three different families meet for the first time for a tutoring circle conducted by Eve, an earth mother, with 4 children and a blue collar husband, but a well stocked trust fund. Then there is Melissa a successful interior designer, 1 child, a cruel banker husband who is careful to never leave visible bruises. The last is Grace a young Zimbabwean immigrant, 2 children, living in a housing project where she has to be the breadwinner and only able to get low paying “The Playground” Starts when three different families meet for the first time for a tutoring circle conducted by Eve, an earth mother, with 4 children and a blue collar husband, but a well stocked trust fund. Then there is Melissa a successful interior designer, 1 child, a cruel banker husband who is careful to never leave visible bruises. The last is Grace a young Zimbabwean immigrant, 2 children, living in a housing project where she has to be the breadwinner and only able to get low paying jobs, where her husband is writing the same book forever. They all become the best of friends and spend many summers together. With barbecues, garden parties and trips to a private island in Greece. Then two kids go missing, one of them is drowned. An affair starts, with so many twists. A real thriller loved it, Thank you Harper Collins Publishers for the chance to read it

  22. 5 out of 5

    Robyn

    Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book for a review. This book follows the story of three different families whose children all have dyslexia and so therefore are being tutored by the same woman. Strange stuff starts happening with the children and families a few months into the tutoring sessions. Before I read the Goodreads synopsis, I had the exact same thoughts that this was formatted and set up like Big Little Lies....but had a storyline like Lord of the Flies. I did find the Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book for a review. This book follows the story of three different families whose children all have dyslexia and so therefore are being tutored by the same woman. Strange stuff starts happening with the children and families a few months into the tutoring sessions. Before I read the Goodreads synopsis, I had the exact same thoughts that this was formatted and set up like Big Little Lies....but had a storyline like Lord of the Flies. I did find the formatting a little bit choppy...which is how I felt about BLL too. You follow different perspectives, and you also are getting foresighted passages after tragedy happens as well. I knew where the plot was going from about halfway through the book, but it didn't stop my reading enjoyment. Overall, I found the book enjoyable and would consider reading more from this author.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey

    I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. I know it's currently a very popular book with good reviews, but I wasn't as impressed as I was expecting to be. It took me a long time to get into it (admittedly, that might be because it's the busy holiday season), but I had to force myself through the first 100 pages or so. I didn't like the characters and still don't understand why they had such a "strong" friendship to last what they all go through. The book is "resolved" in about a page and a half, I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. I know it's currently a very popular book with good reviews, but I wasn't as impressed as I was expecting to be. It took me a long time to get into it (admittedly, that might be because it's the busy holiday season), but I had to force myself through the first 100 pages or so. I didn't like the characters and still don't understand why they had such a "strong" friendship to last what they all go through. The book is "resolved" in about a page and a half, with no real exploration into the final fallout or emotional repercussions. The books ends hopefully, but I really don't know why or how they got to that point.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cori

    3.75 stars. The Playground (still unsure where the title comes from, there's no "playground" involved) follows 3 very different women as they embark on an unforgettable and life changing journey together. It all starts when Eve gets her certification and puts together a dyslexia tutoring group. Melissa, one of Eve's closest friends, brings her 13 year old daughter, Izzy, there in an attempt to teach her more normal behavior and find her some friends. Eve's children Ash, Sorrel, and Poppy (the 3.75 stars. The Playground (still unsure where the title comes from, there's no "playground" involved) follows 3 very different women as they embark on an unforgettable and life changing journey together. It all starts when Eve gets her certification and puts together a dyslexia tutoring group. Melissa, one of Eve's closest friends, brings her 13 year old daughter, Izzy, there in an attempt to teach her more normal behavior and find her some friends. Eve's children Ash, Sorrel, and Poppy (the dyslexic one), have free range on their vast property; untethered, wild, and independent (how Eve believes children should be raised). Add in Grace and her two children, Eve's landscaper husband Eric, Melissa's uptight husband Paul, Grace's author husband Martin, and a sketchy gardener and we have an unforgettable cast that provides a multifaceted plot and lots of drama. Other than some light drama, what could go wrong at a dyslexia tutoring session? It turns out that a lot can go wrong and no one is safe. These characters have issues that go way deeper than the surface. Each of the women make decisions that have irrevocable consequences. Once the nightmare begins, it's hard to stop it. How will this group of friends handle the challenges thrown their way, or will it tear them apart? I thought this book provided a good mix of entertainment, psychological insight, unease, and some great twists and turns. The main issue I had though is that last two pages were underdeveloped and a little confusing, leaving me to question what actually happened in the book. Other than that, it was a solid contemporary drama with some "morbid thriller" vibes. Thank you tlcbooktours and William Morrow books for my free copy.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Christine P

    I saw it described as Big Little Lies meets Lord of the Flies, this roped me in. At first I was unsettled, I felt like I sometimes do when watching a British film production, I need subtitles even though they are speaking English... once I sorted out the children’s names & whom they belonged to I was pretty good to go. Saw some things coming, thought I saw some things coming then didn’t, but then oh maybe... Overall really enjoyed it. If any friends read it I have a question about the I saw it described as Big Little Lies meets Lord of the Flies, this roped me in. At first I was unsettled, I felt like I sometimes do when watching a British film production, I need subtitles even though they are speaking English... once I sorted out the children’s names & whom they belonged to I was pretty good to go. Saw some things coming, thought I saw some things coming then didn’t, but then oh maybe... Overall really enjoyed it. If any friends read it I have a question about the ending! LMK

  26. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    4.75 very well-written with alternating narrators, dark, suspenseful and cautionary. A hard one to put down!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cyndi

    This was a thoroughly enjoyable and deliciously wicked read. Given the subject matter of missing children, it may not be to everyone’s taste, but I loved it. Shemilt is an excellent writer and this was unputdownable. Many thanks to Netgalley, William Morrow and Jane Shemilt for my complimentary e-copy ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Casey

    I liked this book, though I thought it was a bit obvious who the ‘bad guy’ was. And I wish the author had given one or two more sentences before the epilogue, I just wasn’t 100% certain who the people come down the driveway were. Anyway. It was on the whole interesting and riveting in its own way.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    The playground presents the story of the unlikely friendship that develops among three very different couples during one summer in London and later in a Greek island villa. Shemelt is a skilled writer who reveals the characters of the couples as their new friendships develop, not a unique idea for a novel. What makes this story different is the parallel story of the children of the couples and the relationships that they develop while enjoying a sort of benign neglect from their otherwise The playground presents the story of the unlikely friendship that develops among three very different couples during one summer in London and later in a Greek island villa. Shemelt is a skilled writer who reveals the characters of the couples as their new friendships develop, not a unique idea for a novel. What makes this story different is the parallel story of the children of the couples and the relationships that they develop while enjoying a sort of benign neglect from their otherwise preoccupied parents. I won’t add a spoiler here, but I must say that what was described as a surprising and disturbing ending was anything but that to me. Disturbing perhaps, but substantial and numerous clues were sprinkled throughout the book. Any attentive reader would have had at least a strong suspicion about the conclusion.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nikki Sarrat-O'Connell

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Can someone explain the last chapter??

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