Today I’m sharing my thoughts on Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan. I really enjoyed her last novel, Anatomy of a Scandal and have been looking forward to reading this one for a while. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
A mother in crisisAvailable from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Googleplay | Apple Books | Hive
A doctor’s duty
What is the truth about that night?
Liz and Jess have been friends for ten years, ever since they both started a family. But how well do they really know each other?
When Jess arrives at A&E with her baby girl and a story that doesn’t add up, Liz is the doctor on call.
Jess has devoted her life to family and home. But she is hiding so many secrets.
As the truth begins to emerge, Liz is forced to question everything she thought she knew: about Jess, and about herself…
Well, I can honestly say that this book wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I’m not entirely convinced that I do actually know what that was, but I know it wasn’t this. Although, I guess, in some ways, it probably was. In Anatomy of a Scandal, Sarah Vaughan created a complex and tangled novel which exposed a kind of he said, she said tale that is so pertinent in the modern ‘Me Too’ era. With Little Disasters she has also created a very relevant, very heartbreaking, very hard hitting novel, but of a slightly different kind.
This is a story of two halves, of two women who face an impossible and tragic situation that starts to rip holes in the very fabric of their friendship. Jess arrives in A&E with her daughter, Betsey, who has suffered an injury that doesn’t entirely support the story that she is telling. Her best friend, Liz is called in for a referral and is forced to make a call that brings Jess’s world to the point of collapse. But how did Betsey get hurt? Was it simply an accident or was it something far more unspeakable?
Well – if you want to know you will have to read the book. Sarah Vaughan takes readers on a truly emotional and sometimes shocking journey as we venture back and forth in time to the moment that Liz and Jess first met, through the current investigation into Betsey’s accident, and to the gradual but unexpected revealing of the truth. It is hard not to feel incensed as you read, as the injury to the child is spelled out and the likely scenarios play out in your head. And the more you get to know Jess, to know about her, the more likely it seems that she is guilty, suspicions that are not eased by her reluctance to open up to anyone.
Liz and Jess are two very believable and relatable characters. Liz has her own problems with deal with in her life, as well as an overwhelming schedule as a doctor. It is easy to like her, and the way in which the author has played out the moral dilemma she faces, torn between believing in her friend and considering the facts of the injuries as they are presented, is truly authentic. She is not one to take things on face value, and in spite of the science telling her one thing, her conscience tells her something more.
Jess is initially something of an enigma. She is guarded, reluctant to open up to anyone, and clearly very on edge. You can absolutely see the love that she has for her daughter and yet still cannot tell if love alone is enough. And the more I learned about her, the more I could empathise with her. Again, the author has done a brilliant job of portraying a woman suffering from postnatal anxiety, of capturing the dark thoughts that invade the minds of far more mothers than might be expected. Of how easy it is for those signs to be missed by the people that love you most.
This really is a complex novel, one to be savoured and not rushed. With beautiful narrative that captures the emotions so perfectly, and being told from a varying narrative perspective, first person and third, it leads us through the heart of a very tragic story. It forces readers to question how they would react in similar circumstances and also how much you would be willing to sacrifice for someone you love dearly.
There came a time where I kind of cottoned on to what had happened, a throwaway comment that made me think ‘wait a minute’ … If you are canny you may spot it too, but if not, that is not a problem as I promise the ending, when it comes will leave you shell-shocked and satisfied in equal measure. A great read, definitely recommend.
About the Author
Anatomy of a Scandal, Sarah Vaughan’s 3rd novel and her first courtroom drama/psychological thriller, combines her experiences as a news reporter and political correspondent on the Guardian with her time as a student reading English at Oxford. Translated into 22 languages, it was an instant international bestseller, Sunday Times top five bestseller, and kindle number 1 bestseller. It has been optioned for television and shortlisted for awards in the UK, Sweden and France.
Little Disasters will be published on April 2 in the UK, on August 18, in the US, and in various other countries in 2021. Married with two children, she lives just outside Cambridge, and is currently working on her fifth novel.