The Perfect Mother by Margaret Leroy

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The Perfect Mother by Margaret Leroy

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Katie Pullen
Reviewed by Katie Pullen
Summary: Catriona Lydgate's life is shattered when she has to fight to clear her name after she is accused of being responsible for her daughter's unexplained and confusing illness through Munchausen's by Proxy Syndrome. Both chilling and unusual in its theme this book will keep you gripped right up to the end.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 576 Date: February 2010
Publisher: MIRA
ISBN: 978-0778303527

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Perfection pervades every corner of Catriona's life She has a beautiful home, a charming husband, a well-behaved stepdaughter, and a cherished daughter of her own, 8-year-old Daisy. When Daisy is taken ill, Catriona does all a good mother would do to help her get better. But as Daisy's condition deteriorates with no sign of improvement, Catriona seeks more and more medical intervention, until eventually she is accused of being responsible for her daughter's illness.

As no one listens to Cat's desperate pleas that she is only trying to help Daisy, her life soon starts to fragment, losing the trust and support of those closest to her and she is forced to look back into her own tortured childhood and her estranged relationship with her Mother to find the key to her future.

It is the clever use of a first person narrative that is the key to why this novel really works. We only have Cat's thoughts, feelings and version of events to go on which, as a reader determined to outwit the author, made me question immediately the accuracy of her narration and I was quickly convinced that she was the root of Daisy's problems and that something from her past had come back to haunt her and that this was its manifestation. However, thanks to Leroy's careful weaving of a very intricate plot, where she slowly reveals to us the secrets of Cat's terrifying childhood, breaking down her stable world as her behaviour towards Daisy becomes more controlling and obsessive I had to re-evaluate my initial suspicions many times as I found it harder to believe Cat was at fault. Leroy's style is certainly impressive as she made me put aside my initial fears and replace them with total sympathy and frustration for Cat as she desperately struggles to come to terms with her past while trying to find medical help for Daisy from professionals who just will not listen to her. I wavered between fear and hope and raced to the end desperate to discover the truth.

To add to the horror which unfolds before Cat and to push the chilling uncertainty of the novel along, Leroy skilfully uses the motifs of weather, wild foxes and Cat's drawings as underlying themes. Cat constantly describes the weather which reflects both her mood and the horrendous events surrounding her. The constant presence of wild foxes in her garden illustrates her bleak state of mind as' like one of the foxes she sees, she is cornered with no way out. But the most unsettling theme has to be Cat's drawings. These turn from acceptable pretty pictures of flowers to disturbingly sinister images of children trapped in labyrinths or covered in chains mirroring Cat's frustration at unfolding events and the fact she has not dealt with her past.

This is a novel inspired by Margaret Leroy's own experiences of her daughter's unexplained illness and as result she writes with a convincing voice on an intriguing and unusual subject, and deftly explores the horrors any mother would go through if accused of being responsible for their child's illness through Munchausen's by Proxy Syndrome and how the medical world can wield such frightening power.

I've only given this book 3½ stars as it 's a bit slow to start with and is a touch predictable in places. The ending is also somewhat rushed and a little disappointing after the immense build up. Having said that it is a surprisingly absorbing read and I was kept guessing right until the end so I hope you will be too.

Note: Previously published as Postcards from Berlin.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals to you, you may also enjoy My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult.

Buy The Perfect Mother by Margaret Leroy at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Perfect Mother by Margaret Leroy at Amazon.co.uk


Buy The Perfect Mother by Margaret Leroy at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Perfect Mother by Margaret Leroy at Amazon.com.

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