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The Playground: A Novel

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"Beautifully written and suffused with dread. Jane Shemilt's domestic settings are seductively vivid, and the final outcome is profoundly shocking and terrifying." — Gilly Macmillan, New York Times bestselling author of The Nanny Big Little Lies meets Lord of The Flies in this electrifyingly twisty psychological thriller, follow-up to Jane Shemilt’s breakout debut The Daughter. Over the course of a long, hot summer in London, the lives of three very different married couples collide when their children join the same tutoring circle, resulting in illicit relationships, shocking violence, and unimaginable fallout. There’s Eve, a bougie earth mother with a well-stocked trust fund; she has three little ones, a blue-collar husband and is obsessed with her Instagrammable recipes and lifestyle. And Melissa, a successful interior designer whose casually cruel banker husband is careful not to leave visible bruises; she curates her perfectly thin body so closely she misses everything their teenage daughter is hiding. Then there’s Grace, a young Zimbabwean immigrant, who lives in high-rise housing project with her two children and their English father Martin, an award-winning but chronically broke novelist; she does far more for her family than she should have to. As the weeks go by, the couples become very close; there are barbecues, garden parties, a holiday at a country villa in Greece. Resentments flare. An affair begins. Unnoticed, the children run wild. The couples are busily watching each other, so distracted and self-absorbed that they forget to watch their children. No one sees the five children at their secret games or realize how much their family dynamics are changing until tragedy strikes. The story twists and then twists again while the three families desperately search for answers. It’s only as they begin to unravel the truth of what happened over the summer that they realize evil has crept quietly into their world. But has this knowledge come too late? "Countless psychological thrillers get compared to Big Little Lies; Shelmilt's is the real deal." — People

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review An Amazon Best Book of December 2019: Fans of Liane Moriarty will devour Shemilt’s domestic suspense novel, The Playground, which kicks off during a London summer. Three distinctly different families become involved in the same tutoring group, taught by one of the mothers, Eve, and soon the families fall into a close friendship. As the three families share everything from vacations to birthdays, the adults become increasingly self-obsessed and distracted: igniting a secret affair, hiding domestic abuse and navigating an unequal partnership. The largely unsupervised children begin to play a secret and dangerous game. Tragedy falls upon one of the families, and as the group tries to figure out just what caused this tragedy, they unearth something more unsettling and disturbing than they anticipated. Twisty and unexpected, The Playground’s dark take on suburbia will have parents hugging their children just a bit tighter. —Sarah Gelman, Amazon Book Review Review "Beautifully written and suffused with dread. Jane Shemilt's domestic settings are seductively vivid, and the final outcome is profoundly shocking and terrifying." (Gilly Macmillan, New York Times bestselling author of The Nanny) “BRILLIANT, and frighteningly credible, partly because the characters are so beautifully realized. Exquisitely written, utterly gripping and almost unbearably tense—you'll be thinking about it long after you read the final page.” (Lucy Foley, bestselling author of The Hunting Party) "Countless psychological thrillers get compared to Big Little Lies; Shemilt is the real deal." (People)

About the Author

While working full time as a physician, Jane Shemilt received an M.A. in creative writing. She was shortlisted for the Janklow and Nesbit award and the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize for The Daughter, her first novel. She and her husband, a professor of neurosurgery, have five children and live in Bristol, England.

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Inventory Last Updated: Mar 01, 2021

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