NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Perfect Mother by Nina Darnton

3.0 out of 5 stars -- Sometimes the lies we tell ourselves are even worse than the ones we tell each other...

When the call comes in the middle of the night, Jennifer Lewis rushes to Spain to help her daughter, Emma, who has been arrested in connection with a murder. Emma, a foreign exchange student who had previously been attending Princeton University, was ostensibly studying abroad -- while receiving financial support from her parents. This perfect mother cannot imagine how her perfect daughter has been implicated or involved in this case because it is very clear to her that Emma was the victim of a crime, not the perpetrator. Unfortunately, the other witness, Emma's boyfriend, Paco, is missing so can't substantiate Emma's story.

Jennifer and her husband, Mark, bring their money and Mark's legal experience to Spain -- sparing no expense trying to clear Emma. Jennifer doesn't waver in her support until little fractures and tiny memories start to crack the facade. For is a daughter the reflection of a mother? If so, then is it the mother's fault if the daughter makes bad choices? Jennifer cannot allow herself to see the real Emma -- who continues to avoid addressing the allegations. The investigation leads to the discovery of evidence that questions Emma's account of the night the murder happened. Jennifer has no insight, and doesn't want any, as she prefers her own storybook tale of life and family. Emma is manipulative and conniving and eventually only her mother is fooled. Jennifer cannot confront her daughter because she doesn't WANT to know the TRUTH. I really hated these characters and felt no empathy for any of them.

This book is another work of fiction that is loosely compared to the reality of the Amanda Knox case. It addresses the issues of media spin and how the Americans and the Spanish react when a crime such as this occurs and involves their citizens. I much preferred the book Cartwheel by Jennifer Dubois as it had more complex characters and multiple points of view versus this novel which was from that of Jennifer.
I think most parents try to have a clear vision of who and what their children are, but love can often be blind. And it is in the nature of parents to accept responsibility for the outcome of their child-raising abilities. This novel explored that concept and again reminds us that it is impossible to ever fully know another person, even a much-loved child.

Thank you to NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Plume for the e-book ARC to review.


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