To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. It also analyses reviews to verify trustworthiness.
3.5 stars The Perfect Daughter is the latest standalone novel by Alex Stone. This is my first read by this author.
When Jess brings home her new boyfriend, Adam its the first time she has dared defy her mother. Jess's life has been tightly controlled by her mother since her father left in early childhood. When Adam goes missing, things begin unravel. Is Jess really as perfect as she seems?
At the heart this book is about relationships, specifically mother-daughters. Jess is a likeable, strong and realistic character who I was cheering on the whole book. Her relationship with her mother was complex and layered. I felt the author portrayed this well. I could both hate and empathize with the mother character.
The book is told in dual timelines. The current which focuses on the aftermath of Adam's disappearance and the past where we get to see Jess and Adam's relationship as it begins and develops. I enjoyed the back and forth and felt this helped to build suspense.
The ending has an interesting and shocking twist that I didn't see coming. The end wrapped up most things but left one minor unanswered question which I would have liked to know. The ending was satisfying otherwise.
Overall, this was a solid, easy to read page turner. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys complex family/domestic mysteries.
Thank you to the author, publisher and Netgalley for an early copy of this book.
THE PERFECT DAUGHTER by Alex Stone is the debut psychological suspense thriller by the author. It's a no holds barred peek into the lives of mother and daughter duo, Abigail and Jess Harper. And boy, will it drive you mad! The relationship between what I have termed "the toxic two" is just that - toxic - detailing the lengths to which a mother will go to just to keep her daughter co-dependent on her. It's not healthy, nor is it normal. I have to say that I am so please my mother is nothing like this at all!
The story is that Jess, a thirty-something woman whose life has been totally immersed in the manipulative hold her mother had over her her entire life. From consistently interfering in her life through each and ever relationship she's ever had to her choice of clothes, make-up, even food, Jess has never made an independent choice for herself. Everything she does, thinks or says is immediately linked to her mother and what she would think or say. Not only that, but every sentence uttered by her mother is a direct put-down which therefore leaves Jess questioning everything she does thus keeping her completely under her mother's tight control.
For Jess, this behaviour is completely normal. Everyone is close to their mothers...aren't they? That may well be, but not everyone is beholden to their mother for ever hour of every day of their lives. If Jess isn't with her mother she is texting her mother or thinking about what her and what she might say in any given situation...even when she is on a date.
But when Jess meets Adam, her life changes. For the first time she begins to feel free from the constraints of her mother's clutches...but is she really? Because then everything she does she begins to second guess or question knowing that she isn't capable enough of making those decisions herself. Even her apartment was chosen by her mother despite the fact Abigail still referred to her childhood home as "home". In her eyes, that was her home and always would be. But Adam sees something in Jess that she cannot, and she starts to feel good about herself. Until she starts to second guess herself and begins to wonder if her mother was right.
Adam tried showing Jess how good she could be if she just let herself be but her mother was always in the background...her voice constantly in her head, reminding her that she wasn't good enough and that, like all the others, Adam will leave her too. I mean, why wouldn't they? She was unlovable and at the end of the day it was always her fault that they leave. Ever since her father left when she was 7 years old. If he couldn't love her, then what hope did she have? But Adam reminded her constantly that she was special, that she was beautiful and that she was good enough. She just had to believe it.
In between Adam's voice and her mother's, Jess couldn't hear her own in the cacophony. Did she even have a voice? And was she good enough to be heard? Soon, Jess began to wonder if the freedom she gained from her mother's clutches wasn't being replaced by Adam's? Had she simply moved on from being manipulated by her mother to being manipulated by Adam? Or is she just imagining it all?
And then Jess' world falls apart when Adam disappears...feared dead. Both her and her mother are questioned by the police after Adam's van was found having plunged over a cliff with Adam nowhere to be found. Was it suicide, accident or something more sinister? All eyes begin to fall on Jess as she is called in for questioning several times and what with her history, her suspicious behaviour and apparent memory problems, Jess even begins to question herself. Did she do this?
The story unfolds solely through Jess' unreliable narrative in the past and present, with alternating chapters "Then" and "Now", beginning when she met Adam up to his disappearance and its aftermath. We also see through this and her various flashbacks from over the years, the manipulative hold her mother has on through coercive control and the constant negative affirmations that have clearly affected every aspect of her self conscious life. And despite efforts to the contrary, Jess has grown to realise that THE PERFECT DAUGHTER doesn't exist...no matter how hard she tries to appease her mother.
Jess's thought process is very repetitive and somewhat depressing but is it any wonder? I found it difficult to read at times because her mother was so blatantly manipulative but Jess was so conditioned to it that she was blind to the damage she was causing. I was incredibly frustrated and I just wanted to shake some sense into Jess and smack her mother into the middle of somewhere far far away. But then as we see Jess begin to doubt herself, we start to wonder just how much are we being told? How much of what Jess tells us in her narrative can we believe? If, for some reason, she is as mentally challenged as her mother insinuates then just how much of her recollection can we really believe?
THE PERFECT DAUGHTER is engrossing, addictive and incredibly frustrating at times but it has a somewhat surprising ending despite having already figured out the twist early on. The final twist was the surprise and the ending was sweet.
A psychological thriller with a totally unreliable narrator, THE PERFECT DAUGHTER is the perfect read for fans of this genre and will have you guessing and second guessing just what is real and what is imagined.
After a lifetime of living life for the benefit of her mum, Jess finally meets a man who not only seems to truly care about her for who she is, but is encouraging her to follow her own hopes and dreams and live her life for herself. But what does it mean for her when he is suddenly gone and not only does she now have to navigate without him, but even worse it’s seems the police think she has something to do with his disappearance.
The Perfect Daughter is a compelling read full of manipulation, control and a complex relationship between mother and daughter and I was all there for it! Stone entices the reader straight off the bat with an opening chapter that had me instantly hooked and from there each chapter left me wanting more! The deeper you get into it the story the more toxic it becomes and with its sinister undertones simmering in the background, its claustrophobic vibe throughout as well as an unreliable narrator, makes for a thrilling read. I throughly enjoyed this tale and outcome which left me feeling very satisfied.
Alex Stone is a new author to me and one I am so glad to have been introduced to. She certainty knows how to weave a tale and I look forward to reading more from her.
Who would think the obsessive love of a mother could turn a daughter into a timid, nervous shell of a human being. This book was brilliant from start to finish and the little twists and turns left the reader wondering what the outcome would be. A thoroughly good read.
This book was an awful waste of time! The characters were terrible, the main girl Jess being the worst ... so stupid and unbelievably frustrating, I understand that she was manipulated from a young age by the mother but come on she went on to work in law and was smart enough anyone else would have questioned all these dodgy events long before now. She was lame and pathetic , the boyfriend was undefined throughput and the mother was just a cliche. The book had hardly any conversation between characters and the descriptions just went on and on turning into complete mind numbing waffle. I scanned most pages after half way and just couldn’t believe how predictably worse it got I just had to read the end... which of course was a total flop it was a little embarrassing to be honest. No twists and turns, not gripping or interesting.
The author set the scene for the main character very well and took us through the stage set in great detail if a little laboured. I was carried along easily with the narrative but had to be careful to pick up all the pertinent points along the way. As the story progressed Alex Stone the author seemed to grow in confidence and direction. This allowed the story to grow and build to an intriguing and fast paced climax. A great book for any writer let alone a first book. Highly recommended and looking forward to the next saga.
This is the first of Alex's books I have read, and what an emotional rollercoaster it has been. At the centre is poor Jess Stone, under the control of her mother, not realising quite how under her thumb she is. She is in a job she doesnt particularly enjoy, and everything is ticking along nicely until Jess gets a boyfriend. Jess's mother does not take kindly to someone trying to take her daughter away, but Adam seems to really love Jess, and hes good for her, making her see she can have some freedom and make her own decisions. He loves her, doesnt he? It was really annoying reading Jess be so easily manipulated, and keep questioning herself. I wanted to shake her, and say seriously, cant you see. The fact the book had that strong an impact shows how well it is written. It also explores the relationship between mother and daughter, which can be difficult. It also shows the strength emotional and psychological abuse can have on someone. It destroys all sense of self worth and confidence. Mothers have such a huge impact on the development of that in their daughters, and it hit close to home, which is perhaps what made it an at times really uncomfortable read. I had a feeling all along of what was going on, but I was gobsmacked at the end when my predictions were wildly wrong. Overall a really engrossing, clever thriller.
The Perfect Daughter by Alex Stone Pub Date 19 Oct 2021 Jess Harper has spent her whole life trying to make her mum, Abigail, happy and proud. And everything Jess does, from the clothes she wears, the job she has, the men she dates, are all approved by Abigail first. The Perfect Boyfriend So when Jess announces that she has a new man in her life – plumber Adam – Abigail is less than impressed. 'A plumber? Really, Jessica....' Adam encourages Jess to break free from her mum's manipulation; can't she see what's happening? The perfect mother But Abigail is only doing these things to keep Jess safe, to protect her from getting hurt again… isn't she? Or the perfect liar? Jess, caught in the middle, doesn't know who to believe or trust. And then Adam vanishes without a trace. Now Jess is the police's prime suspect, and they want to know if Jess really is as perfect as she seems. The plot is told over two timelines. Jess and her mother, Angela have a toxic, controlling relationship; it is disguised well behind so-called protectiveness; Angela just wants to keep Jess safe. Jess tries to please her mother by doing all she asks, but nothing she does is enough. When she meets Adam, a plumber, and attempts to have a relationship, this agitates her mother. With two people now in her life competing for control, everything gets strained; suddenly, Adam disappears. Who will be the last one standing? This is a well-written story that I thoroughly enjoyed. I am happy to recommend it. I want to thank NetGalley, Boldwood Books and author Alex Stone for a pre-publication copy to review.
Throughout this book the reader is kept guessing as to whether Jess is a reliable narrator or not - she's not even sure herself. Her mother is an unpleasant woman whose character will stay with me a long time. Lots of wonderful twists and turns as Jess's past is gradually revealed. Very cleverly written book - a wonderful debut and I look forward to the next book from this talented author.