The Playground
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?

The Playground Details

TitleThe Playground
Author
ReleaseDec 30th, 2019
PublisherWilliam Morrow Paperbacks
ISBN-139780062939432
Rating
GenreFiction, Mystery, Thriller

The Playground Review

  • Berit☀️✨
    January 1, 1970
    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 ***
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  • Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Crystal Zavala
    January 1, 1970
    Rating somewhere between 2.5-3The 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
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  • Christine Moore
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Kristi
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Ilene Harris
    January 1, 1970
    “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
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  • Robyn
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Cori
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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