Have you ever wanted to be someone else?
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…
Hi and welcome to my review of The Perfect Life!
I’ve been a fan of Nuala Ellwood’s writing for quite some time now so I was thrilled to be invited to read The Perfect Life. I know I can always rely on Ms Ellwood to help me escape reality by means of an engrossing psychological thriller, and The Perfect Life was no exception.
The Perfect Life alternates between a present and a past timeline, both told from the perspective of Vanessa Adams. Only about a year apart, yet the contrast between Nessa’s life then and her life now is steep. In 2017, she’s an accomplished, confident woman. She’s happy in her job and as we witness her falling madly in love, we see a really happy Vanessa, despite the troubles with her best friend/roommate who feels somewhat abandoned. In 2018, on the other hand, we see a rather distraught Vanessa brought in for questioning by the police, a murder suspect, and from the manner in which she is questioned, she appears to be a woman who has recently gone off the deep end. What happened? That is the question that plagued my mind almost from the onset, what the hell happened to Vanessa?
Soon I had my suspicions, and a while later my suspicions came true. There is little I can say about that cos spoilers, but holy crap I got angry again! It’s been a while since I’ve wanted to strangle a literary character, but I sure as hell wanted to strangle… they-who-shall-not-be-named. I love feeling all the feels, though, negative or positive, doesn’t even matter, so I really enjoyed that about The Perfect Life.
As things go from bad to worse, there’s this feeling of claustrophobia, which is something this author is really good at, creating a tension, making you feel like you’re right there in the thick of it. However, at one point, it sort of lost me a little bit. Again, I can’t explain why I felt that way cos spoilers, but what felt like a plausible story suddenly gained momentum through a reveal I found quite unbelievable and I struggled to suspend disbelief, mostly, I think, because of the contrast in plausibility: as opposed to what came before it just didn’t make a lot of sense to me and it sort of yanked me out of the story for a minute there.
Despite having that (poorly explained) niggle, overall I did have a great time with The Perfect Life. It’s a suspenseful psychological thriller, addictive and easy to read. If you’re looking to add to your psychological thriller collection, do check out The Perfect Life.
The Perfect Life is out now in ebook, paperback and audiobook.
Thanks to Viking Books and NetGalley for the eARC. All opinions are still my own.