Summary and book reviews of The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

The Perfect Girl

by Gilly Macmillan

The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan X
The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2016, 464 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2016, 464 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kate Braithwaite

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About this Book

Book Summary

The New York Times bestselling author of What She Knew returns with an electrifying new novel about how the past will always find us...

Zoe Maisey is a seventeen-year-old musical prodigy with a genius IQ. Three years ago, she was involved in a tragic incident that left three classmates dead. She served her time, and now her mother, Maria, is resolved to keep that devastating fact tucked far away from their new beginning, hiding the past even from her new husband and demanding Zoe do the same. 

Tonight Zoe is giving a recital that Maria has been planning for months. It needs to be the performance of her life. But instead, by the end of the evening, Maria is dead.

In the aftermath, everyone - police, family, Zoe's former solicitor, and Zoe herself - tries to piece together what happened. But as Zoe knows all too well, the truth is rarely straightforward, and the closer we are to someone, the less we may see.

SUNDAY NIGHT
The Concert

ZOE

Before the concert begins, I stand inside the entrance to the church and look down the nave. Shadows lurk in the ceiling vaults even though the light outside hasn't dimmed yet, and behind me the large wooden doors have been pulled shut.

In front of me, the last few members of the audience have just settled into their places. Almost every seat is filled. The sound of their talk is a medium-pitched rumble.

I shudder. In the heavy heat of the afternoon, when I was sweaty and tired after rehearsing, I forgot that it could be cold in the church even when the air was oven hot outside, so I chose a little black dress to wear this evening, with skinny straps, and now I'm feeling the chill. My arms are covered in goose bumps.

The doors to the church have been closed, sealing out the heat, because we don't want outside noise to disturb us. This suburb of Bristol isn't known for its rowdy inhabitants, but people have paid good money...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The Perfect Girl is very strong in parts. Zoe's troubles at school and her claustrophobic new family set-up are well imagined. Her relationship with her stepbrother is nuanced and engaging and her aunt's marital difficulties add layers of complexity and interest. However, other elements feel heavy-handed: A primary character's illness reads like an add-on or afterthought, a rather clumsy attempt at delivering depth. An all-around lack of emotional response to Maria's death is also particularly noticeable.   (Reviewed by Kate Braithwaite).

Full Review (380 words).

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Media Reviews

Library Journal

A compelling read for fans of psychological suspense.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. As the suspenseful, serpentine tale unreels from the alternating perspectives of several key players, readers will be rooting for the resilient, resourceful Zoe all the way to the perfectly executed final twists.

Booklist

Starred Review. Masterfully drawn characters and intricate plotting make this a stunning piece of crime fiction.

Author Blurb Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Baby
Literary suspense at its finest.

Author Blurb Rosamund Lupton, author, Sister
A wonderfully addictive book with virtuoso plotting and characters - for anyone who loved Girl on the Train, it's a must read.

Reader Reviews

Cloggie Downunder

Brilliant
“Adults like to put a name on everything you feel, as if a name can neutralise it. They’re wrong, though. Some things settle under your skin and don’t ever go away, no matter what you call them” The Perfect Girl, also titled much more evocatively,...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Parenting a Prodigy

In Gilly Macmillan's The Perfect Girl, seventeen-year old Zoe Maisey is a musical prodigy. Her genius, Zoe says, is "temptingly bright" to other people but she sounds a strong note of caution: "Be careful what you wish for, because everything has a price." Her mother and stepfather, she explains "are disguising a level of ambition for their children that could choke you." In Zoe's case, because she has a criminal past, her mother is even more desperate for Zoe's prodigious musical ability to be her salvation, the key to them moving forward with a second chance at life.

Child prodigies are most common in the realms of athletics, mathematics, music and chess, and parenting such a child is far from easy.

Lang Lang and Alma Deutscher Lang Lang, one of the world'...

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