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Written By Sophie Hannah, BA Paris, Clare Mackintosh, and Holly Brown, this psychological thriller is perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Louise Candlish. How far would you go to protect your daughter? Four mothers must identify the true threat at their daughters' school before it's too late. Carolyn, Bronnie, Elise, and Kendall are bound together by one thing-their four daughters are best friends at the highly competitive Orla Flynn Academy for the Performing Arts. Last year the foursome exploded because of brutal ...

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Oct 27, 2019

In need of a good edit

Four girls all in competition for the role of leading lady in their end of year drama school showcase, but how far will one of them go to come out on top?

I must say that the premise of The Understudy - 4 authors each writing a chapter of a story from a different perspective, didn't really enthral me. To someone unfamiliar with any of the authors it just felt a lot like a vanity project - something you'd perhaps do with your friends at school, or a marketing gimmick rather than anything that actually gave justice to telling a good story. Great authors can make you believe that you are in the head of multiple different characters without the need to actually get someone else to write it for them! That said, I'm not sure whether it's a good or a bad thing that the chapters didn't really feel as different as they could have done - had I not seen the cover I don't think I would have noticed - the mothers all have different personalities but they are all written in a very similar way.

The plot itself is nothing very special - I had guessed the perpetrator very early on and the whole book felt very drawn out - by about 40% I was crying out for the resolution of the plot. As someone who actually works professionally in theatre, I was also a little surprised at some of the errors. For example, one sentence reads 'the theater dims, and the house lights go up. The first student begins to sing' - if the theatre dims then the house lights (the lights above the audience) go out, not up! Also the idea that Cameron Mackintosh, Sonia Friedman and Nick Allot would all go in person to see a drama school end of year showcase was pretty laughable. There was also a really odd portrayal of Brixton in the book, where a character is terrified of heading there and as soon as she steps off the bus in the middle of the day gets almost raped and then meets a drug dealer and his client. This seemed like a very unfair stereotype of an entire area of London! I also found it a bit strange that a book written by two English authors and set in London would use the American spelling of 'theater' throughout.

Having four mothers with four teenagers plus a newcomer and headmaster all as key players it was a little hard to work out who was who at times and I did get who was mother to who mixed up quite a bit. The snapchat style dialogue between the girls was irritating, thankfully brief and added nothing to the story.

Overall The Understudy could do with some ruthless editing and a good proofread, the long winded story just didn't have enough drama to hold my interest I'm afraid. Thank you to NetGalley & Hodder & Stoughton for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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