Review by Nicola Smith – Short Book and Scribes

Publisher: Penguin Books    5th August 2021

ISBN: 978-0241989098    PB

I’ve loved all of Nuala Ellwood’s previous books and The Perfect Life is no exception. It’s incredibly fast-paced and I raced through it.

This is the story of Vanessa, a woman with a great job and a nice life. She meets Connor and he just seems to make her life even better, perhaps even complete. There’s a lot of back story to Vanessa though, a traumatic childhood which has affected her throughout her life and she’s used to pretending, losing herself in a dream world. When she sees a property on an app that she likes the look of she decides to go and see it but makes up a different persona for herself. This eventually leads to a dead man in one of the houses she goes to see. Did she kill him?

It’s actually quite a complex story when I think about it, one that is very twisty and just when I thought I knew where it was going the author took me in a completely different and unexpected direction which was a real surprise to me. This is such a cleverly plotted read and I thought the author did a brilliant job at keeping up the suspense. I found it really hard to put down. It’s easy to read yet has some strong themes of childhood loss, grief, gaslighting and murder.

The Perfect Life is a book with two timelines, very close together yet everything has changed between them. I loved going back and forth between the two as the story unfolded before my eyes. A thrilling and chilling psychological thriller – I loved it!