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Perfect Liars by Rebecca Reid - Review

Saturday, March 14, 2020

I saw a review of this somewhere and thought it sounded pretty cool, so when I had an Amazon voucher recently I bought this along with a coupe more books I'd been wanting. I picked it up straight away, thinking it would be an interesting thriller kind of book.

The premise is that there are three women, aged in their early 30s, who are friends and have been since they were at boarding school together as teenagers. One of them, Lila, is kind of a mess, and threatening to spill a secret about something that happened while they were in their first term of sixth form. Georgia gets Nancy to come back over from her home in Boston for the two of them to sort Lila out. She throws a dinner party for herself, her husband Charlie, Lila, her husband Roo, Nancy, and Nancy's new boyfriend Brett. Over the course of the evening the reader sees their lives now, and the devastating end the evening has, and then through flashbacks we learn what happened at school. 

I loved the premise but the book really doesn't live up to standards. Firstly, there is just not one person in the entire book who is anything like a decent person. All three women are absolutely reprehensible, and completely spoilt, selfish, and shallow. Charlie and Roo are equally bad. Brett is completely pointless, he's Nancy's fiance but she doesn't love him and he's just eye candy. The three women have an awful friendship where they're totally trying to compete and get one over on the others and where they see malice in every compliment. I just could not have friends like these. I love my friends, I'm happy I have friends like them because god, these three were awful. 

So in the past, they were at a boarding school together. Nancy and Lila are from rich families, although Nancy sulks because her parents write and talk about her, and Lila is annoyed because her dad has a much younger wife and new children. (Her mother died, but this is glossed over and only pulled out when Lila wants sympathy). Georgia was a scholarship girl and lived in fear of losing her scholarship. I did actually think this part was well written and understandable. The girls arrive back ready for their first year of sixth form and instead of being given the three person dorm they had been promised, they've been split up. Lila has been put in the three bed with Heidi and Jenny. She was friends with Heidi a few years ago, but the two have grown apart and now Heidi is subjected to bullying by Nancy for being, well, not thin and beautiful like the three girls. 

The three girls are absolutely furious that they haven't been given the dormitory they wanted, and it becomes clear this is the fault of a new teacher, Miss Brandon. She's young, and wants the girls to branch out into other friendships. They take against her, and get to absolutely loathe her. I didn't feel like they had enough reason to really hate her, to be honest. She doesn't really do that much to them; their reactions seemed disproportionate. They develop a way to get "back" at her, and although we don't see what has happened until near the beginning of the book, it's this secret which has kept the women together throughout the next sixteen years and which Lila is threatening to reveal.

In the modern time, she is a mum to Inigo and is struggling with him. She is probably suffering postnatal depression but her husband doesn't seem to care too much. She is drinking too much and the two of them routinely argue at dinner parties so aren't invited out much anymore. There's some kind of money troubles too (Roo has had to remain a member of just ONE club, the HORROR). I felt sorry for Lila even if I didn't like her.

Georgia is married to an aspiring politician who has far too much money and is actually insufferable. She works at an estate agent's, a "silly little job" that she needs because she sends all her wages to her parents as they're struggling. She is trying to get pregnant and has done several cycles of IVF but without results. She keeps this from her friends, however, because??? Well actually it's not clear why. Because she hates her friends and they hate her, possibly. She lives in a huge house in Notting Hill but the shame of it is that they have to rent out the basement flat, can you IMAGINE. I don't know how these rich people do it, I really don't. 

Nancy is completely awful, just a horrible kid and a horrible woman. She's cold and calculating and bullies her way through life. We're possibly meant to feel sorry for her because of her parents, but honestly they seemed a lot more fun than she ever did. She's awful, end of. 

I didn't really understand the end of the book; I wasn't sure what I wasn't seeing, but it really wasn't spelt out clearly enough for me. I've read a few reviews and everyone seems to have loved this book, but I definitely didn't. As I said, I don't think their reasons for hating Miss Brandon were anything like justified. The dinner party just went on and on and on forever, and Lila is outside in the cold for about an hour for no reason. I think the dinner party could have been cut down and more time could have been spent on the past and Miss Brandon.

Then there were inconsistencies that drove me mad. The book was published in 2018 so we can assume the modern time is then, making the women about the same age as me (I was 34 in 2018). Why, then, sixteen years ago, did they have iPhones and social media? We definitely did not - things like Myspace and Livejournal existed, of course, but Facebook and internet on phones and a more modern concept of "social media" definitely didn't. The first iPhone didn't come out until 2007, several years later! Then as I said Georgia rents out the basement flat of her house, but several times someone goes down to the cellar to get something? How does that work? It just came off as lazy storytelling and bad editing. 

I was going to give this three out of five but honestly it pissed me off so much that it only gets two. 

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