Thursday 29 July 2021

The Perfect Life by Nuala Ellwood BLOG TOUR @NualaWrites @PenguinUKBooks #ThePerfectLie @EllieeHud #BookReview


Vanessa has always found it easy to pretend to be somebody different, somebody better. When things get tough in her real life, all she has to do is throw on some nicer clothes, adopt a new accent and she can escape.

That's how it started: looking round houses she couldn't possibly afford. Harmless fun really. Until it wasn't.

Because a man who lived in one of those houses is dead.

And everyone thinks Vanessa killed him...

The Perfect Life by Nuala Ellwood is published on 5 August 2021 by Penguin. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour 

All of us would love 'the perfect life'. We'd love to live in a beautiful house, with a partner that adores us. We all want a job that makes us happy and fulfilled, it's most people's dream. 

Vanessa also wants that life and her way of dealing with the traumas that life have thrown at her is to view expensive properties. She has regular notifications from the Dream Properties website and not only does she make appointments to view them, she also takes on a whole new persona. Vanessa is not doing anyone any harm ..   However, the story opens with a murder.  A well-known children's author has been found dead at his home, and Vanessa just happened to have visited to view the house that very same day. 

It's a long time since I've actually held my breath whilst reading a book, but A Perfect Life left me gasping a few times. The author has cleverly structured her story in the then and the now, we follow Vanessa as she deals with the consequences of her little hobby and we also learn about her earlier life. 

Most people would think that Vanessa already has a pretty perfect life. She has the dream job, working in cosmetics and is well loved by her employer. She has a wonderful relationship with her elder sister Georgie, who became a mother to her when their own Mum tragically died when Vanessa was just ten years old. Vanessa has recently met and fallen in love with Connor, and whilst that relationship has soured her long-time friendship with Lottie, she really knows that Connor is her perfect man. Kind and generous, funny and handsome, he's the guy that she always imagined.

Nuala Ellwood slowly takes the reader to darker places and there were times when I actually had to close the book, take a break and think about Vanessa's situation. An outsider, looking in can see just what is happening, but Vanessa can't, and it's like a car crash waiting to happen. 

Alongside Vanessa's domestic situation, there are some pretty dark and bizarre things happening elsewhere and it's not long before her perfect life has crumbled around her, impacting on those around her and reducing her to a shadow of her former self. 

This is a book that perfectly describes the effect of manipulation and control, we see the utter destruction of a mind and how vulnerabilities are exploited by those who have power. 

It's chilling, with characters who are flawed but realistic. I was gripped throughout. 

Nuala Ellwood is the author of three bestselling novels: My Sister's Bones for which she was selected as one of the Observer's 'New Faces of Fiction 2017', Day of the Accident and The House on the Lake. 

Nuala lives in York with her young son.

Twitter @NualaWrites

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