Originally published: 22 July 2021
Author: Nuala Ellwood
Published by: Penguin
Length: 400 pages
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…
As the book starts, Vanessa is taken in for questioning for the murder of reclusive author Geoffrey Rivers – she doesn’t seem to remember what happened and her family are understandably concerned. We then go back in time and see Vanessa as a woman confident in her job for a cosmetics company, living with her good friend Lottie. On a night out they bump into a colleague of Vanessa’s who has a friend Conner with him. Vanessa and Conner instantly hit it off and so begins an intense love affair which destroys the friendship between Vanessa and Lottie. At first Conner seems like the perfect boyfriend, and Vanessa imagines their perfect life together. As part of this, she goes to visit houses that are for sale, often beyond her means, adopting different personas to dupe the estate agents into thinking she has the funds in order to make the purchase. It is during one of these visits that she encounters Geoffrey Rivers, the author of a series of books she loved as a child.
A super fast paced thriller, this may be my favourite book by Nuala Ellwood so far. The timescale from when Vanessa meets Conner to when she is accused of murder is quite short, and I was intrigued to see how someone’s life could change so dramatically in such a short space of time. Despite evidence to the contrary, Vanessa is not the strong woman she appears to be – just a few words and actions from Conner bring out her insecurities, and the sadness she feels from loosing her mum at a young age.
Having enjoyed two of Ellwood’s pervious books My Sister’s Bones and The House on the Lake I jumped at the chance to read The Perfect Life. I liked how the book led me in one direction that seemed obvious but then veered off course to a whole other. With scenes that made me both sad and very angry, The Perfect Life was a real page turner that kept me hooked.
Thank you so much to Ellie from Penguin Viking for inviting me on the tour and for sending me a copy of the book. Be sure to check out the other reviews from the great bloggers below!
About the author:
Nuala Ellwood is the author of three bestselling novels: My Sister’s Bones for which she was selected as one of the Observer’s ‘New Faces of Fiction 2017’, Day of the Accident and The House on the Lake. Nuala lives in York with her young son.