In this new novel from the internationally bestselling author of the “cool, sharp, and beautifully written” (Lisa Jewell, New York Times bestselling author) Anatomy of a Scandal, a doctor is faced with an ethical dilemma when her friend’s child lands in the emergency room.
Liz Trenchard is an experienced paediatrician with a duty to protect all children admitted to her busy emergency room. So when her friend Jess turns up at the ER one night with her baby girl and a story that doesn’t quite add up, Liz is forced to question everything she thought she knew about her friend and about herself. There are so many secrets and so many lies. The truth can’t come soon enough.
Hi and welcome to my review of Little Disasters!
Little Disasters is my first novel by Sarah Vaughan, but I had heard so many good things about her previous novel Anatomy of a Scandal that I couldn’t resist hitting that NetGalley request button. That and the mention of secrets and lies in the blurb, of course.
Little Disasters is part drama part psychological thriller, alternating between the POV of Jess and the POV of Liz, who met in birthing class years ago and have remained friends ever since. Jess is a stay at home mum, Liz is a paediatrician.
One dark and stormy night (no actually, I haven’t a clue what the weather was like, but that phrase is just the right amount of ominous), Jess shows up in the ER room with her baby Betsey, who has been sick. Both mother and daughter seem in a right state, and alarms bells go off in Liz’s head, after all she’s a professional, trained to notice things that are not quite right. Carefully examining Betsey, Liz spots an injury at the back of the baby’s head, but Jess’s explanation of what happened seems flimsy at best. Torn between staying objective and focussing solely on the child’s best interests on the one hand, and having faith in her friend on the other hand, Liz decides to withdraw from the equation, and opens a can of worms in doing so. What happened to Betsey on this fateful day, and what is Jess hiding?
Little Disasters is a psychological thriller in that it searches for the truth of what happened to Betsey, taking the reader on a somewhat unexpectedly twisty ride. However, a much more important aspect of Little Disasters is motherhood and its ups and downs. It makes for a poignant read, even to me, a reader without children. It deals with postnatal depression and anxiety and the shame that comes with it. I suspect this is something that happens more than people realise, and patients should not be ashamed at all, I’m sure most of us – if not all of us – feel like we can’t cope, feel overwhelmed or anxious at one point, why should parenthood be any different? I was sucked into the story and I had no trouble whatsoever putting myself in Jess’s shoes. However, I do think that if you have children and read this, it will resonate with you much more and could hit home in a way it can’t for me.
Little Disasters is an important book but so bleak at times that I had to put it down to catch my breath. This is no doubt proof of Sarah Vaughan’s excellent writing, the characters’ pain portrayed so perfectly that it bled from the pages to such an extent that it made my own heart ache.
Poignant, harrowing, suspenseful, Little Disasters is a perfect blend of drama and thriller that I would happily recommend.
Many thanks to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own.