Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Book Review: Pretty Baby

Mary Kubica writes some seriously twisted, psychologically creepy books. Her first book, The Good Girl, was good, but I think Pretty Baby was even better...and even more messed up.

image courtesy of Amazon.com
Like many novels that fall into the psychological thriller realm, Pretty Baby is told in the alternating voices of Willow, Chris, and Heidi. Willow is a young, homeless girl who is alone in Chicago with a baby. She is filthy, secretive, and desperate, not knowing where to go or what to do until she is noticed by Heidi while standing on the train platform in the rain.

Heidi is a mother, wife, and has a soft spot for those less fortunate, as is shown in her inner monologue when thinking about Willow and those individuals she has helped while working at a non-profit organization. When she sees Willow at the train station holding four month old Ruby, her natural disposition is to help. Heidi, however, has a sad past, one that will come into question when she invites Willow and Ruby into her house, a decision her husband, Chris, and twelve year old daughter, Zoe, are not thrilled with.

Chris is a loving husband and father who recognizes that his past with Heidi is not without sadness and hurt. However, Chris thought those wounds had long ago healed. Having Willow in his home causes him to question not only what his wife was thinking, but also how healed those traumas in his wife's past truly are.

Pretty Baby is a page turner, filled with twists that I was truly not expecting. Most of the chapters end on a cliffhanger and unforeseen circumstances had me reading well into the night (by flashlight as to not disrupt my peacefully sleeping hubby). After finishing the book in less than 24 hours, I give it a 9 out of 10 and highly recommend Pretty Baby to everyone, especially those who enjoyed The Good Girl. Well done, Mary Kubica, on another literary success. :)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Book Review: The Other Daughter

So I am going to be honest here...it took me FOREVER to get through this novel. The premise is super intriguing, but for some reason, I just had a hard time getting into it.

image courtesy of Amazon.com

The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig centers around Rachel Woodley, a governess living and working in France when she receives a telegram alerting her to her mother's failing health in England. Upon her return to England, she discovers she is too late: her mother has succumbed to influenza. While going through her mother's things, Rachel finds a picture of the father who had presumably died twenty-three years prior. The only issue is that the picture came from a recent issue of a gossip magazine and he is posing with a woman who is listed as his daughter. Rachel realizes that everything she had been told about her father had been a lie; not only is he alive, but he is an Earl and has another family.

Rachel travels to London to learn more about her father and in the process, she meets Simon, a gossip columnist who helps her to come with a plan to gain access into the high ranks of society so that she can confront her father. What follows is a really unbelievable plan in which Rachel assumes the name Vera Morton, a distant cousin of Simon's, and she is set up in a lavish London apartment complete with a new wardrobe to help her assume her new identity. 

I found the concept of being able to change a person's personality and diction in a few days to be extremely hard to believe. Even Professor Higgins took more than a few days to get Eliza Doolittle ready for society in My Fair Lady. Regardless, the story continues with numerous mysteries being uncovered, flawed characters unveiled, and emotions running wild.

I think The Other Daughter has potential, but as a historical novel, it does not quite fit the mold. Not enough is discussed about what is happening in England during the late 1920s when the novel takes place. The only detail given is to the lavish furnishings and gardens of the entitles characters in the novel, as well as the clothing and partying life. Overall, I give Willig's novel a 7.5 out of 10, as the details of the minor characters and time period were not developed thoroughly enough for my liking.