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Little Disasters

Length: 10 hrs and 52 mins
4 out of 5 stars (11 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The new novel from the best-selling author of Anatomy of a Scandal – a brilliantly written and researched, tense, gripping, thought-provoking drama.

You think you have the perfect family.

But everything can be broken.

Liz and Jess have been friends for 10 years, ever since they both started a family. But how well do they really know each other?

When Jess arrives at hospital with a story that doesn’t add up, Liz is the doctor on call. 

Jess has devoted her life to family and home. But she is holding so many secrets. 

As the truth begins to emerge, Liz is forced to question everything she thought she knew: about Jess and about herself. 

When something feels so personal, how do you stay professional?

©2020 Sarah Vaughan (P)2020 Simon & Schuster UK

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irritating narration, dull story

the narrators voice and accents are distractingly irritating, and I've never heard an audio book with sound effects (crowd noise, people speaking on phones). it wasn't enjoyable to listen to at all. Maybe this detracted from my ability to focus on the story but it was dull, slow and predictable. there are much better books on PND and family trauma. I had such high hopes going in, lower your expectations, then lower them again and I'm sure you'll enjoy.

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  • Sarah Rayner
  • 06-04-2020

Completely compelling & very thought-provoking

Having found ‘Notes on a Scandal’ so unputdownable a couple of years ago, my expectations of Sarah Vaughan’s latest novel were high, and I’m delighted to report ‘Little Disasters’ is confidently its equal yet very different, and confirms Vaughan as an author not to miss.

When stay-at-home mother-of-three Jess brings her ten-month-old baby into hospital with a head injury, her friend Liz is the doctor on duty who treats her. In spite of knowing Jess well, Liz is troubled by Jess’s evasiveness and the fact the wound and circumstances don’t marry up. Thus begins a story exploring child neglect and culpability, friendship, familial roles and a whole heap more. Its focus is a group of mothers who meet in perinatal class but don’t for a moment assume this is a tale that will only resonate with mothers of young children - I’ve no kids and was hooked from the off.

Listening at the start of the Covid-19 lockdown and having been in a state of heightened anxiety for several weeks, the longing to escape into a world other than ours right now is stronger than ever, but to achieve that in the midst of so many other distractions was going to take an exceptionally captivating book. Strange though it might seem, ’Little Disasters’ was a just what a book doctor would have ordered for me, it’s not ‘uplit’ by any means, but we’re all different in our tastes and needs and when I’m struggling or low I don’t want to read comic novels or romances; I cry out for novels that tell stories which in some way resonate and enlighten, and in that way help me through. Vaughan’s characters are richly drawn and psychologically interesting, her plotting is twisty and sharp, but what makes her work stand out is the quality of the writing itself; she crafts her language, the dialogue is nuanced, her metaphors original. Moreover, as many are stuck in their homes with their children off school, this exploration of contemporary motherhood and the pressure to be perfect is spookily topical. Many of my peers are struggling to manage homeschooling at zero notice and with little or no experience of doing it hitherto, alongside their own work and trying to process the most serious global situation since WW2. For some reason (sexism, let me name it, why not?) the pressure seems to be on mothers to manage this juggling act. At a time when the notion of ‘having it all’ is farcical, it’s interesting to consider how the pressure to function perfectly in the maternal and professional arenas has ramped up in recent years and consider the psychological havoc it can wreak.

Highly recommended.

5 people found this helpful

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  • papapownall
  • 11-04-2020

Every parent's nightmare

This is a fast paced story of a group of yummy mummies and their other halves who meet at an NCT class. Naturally, in a book of this type, the characters have issues from their pasts which haunt them and the relationships between the group are not what they appear. This is a story of deceit and family secrets. Some of the characters are a bit obvious, for example the hard working but earnest career hospital doctor, the apparently perfect parent who is not quite what they seem and the intolerantly autocratic and bullying hospital consultant. This story comes together and is well paced and structured and will strike a chord with many people who have young children as it picks at the scab of many issues that will be uncomfortable for some.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Rachel Redford
  • 08-05-2020

More text book than story

Essential reading / listening for mothers - new or experienced - although if you're expecting your third child, you may do well to read something else!

It's certainly compulsive listening and makes a very strong case for understanding the terrible pressures on mothers, especially on those juggling work & motherhood, and those struggling (and failing) to cope with crying babies and sleep deprivation. The main story is about super-efficient Jess accused of hurting her non-stop crying baby, her third child. Betsy. We know of course that Jess didn't hurt her baby, but someone did. Betsy has a serious head injury and Jess has fallen apart after a traumatic birth experience, unable to soothe her demanding baby which makes her feel a freak-mother and a complete failure. Her friend Liz is a doctor (fortunately!) at the hospital where Betsy is taken and the story unravels the relationships between a group of women friends since ante-natal classes days which includes Jess and Liz.

It's good that it explores with sympathy and tender understanding the sufferings of women like Jess (and Liz's own mother it is later revealed) and it has an ultimately happy ending. Many readers will find it comforting and perhaps learn for the first time there are other mothers who are as worried and desperate as they are, and that there is a way through it all. This is all great, but it doesn't make for the best kind of fiction as the author's agenda is so obvious.

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  • Janet biglari
  • 20-04-2020

Stunning outstanding listen

Anatomy of a scandal is one of the all-time favorites I love this author's style and her detail to character building. Her narrative is so crisp and concise and really helps to develop her characters who are always so real. This book was very different but equally good. It centers on Jess and Liz who met at anti-natal class and then developed a friendship over the years and babies. Everything starts to go wrong when Jess presents at A&E with a sick baby. What follows is a perfect depiction of the unravelling of a mother in the grips of depression and the lack of acknowledgment of her plight around her. The subject matter is handled very sensitively and as a listener, I had tremendous compassion for Jess. Like Scandal, this book will go onto my favorites.

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  • Pootle_around
  • 17-04-2020

Only 1 hr 40 to go...

I only have a little bit of this book remaining but I just...can't. Not sure how this book was classified, in which genre, but if you imagine an episode of The Bill (showing my age), sprinkled with some family drama then you've got this book in a nutshell. It's ok, but not interesting enough for me to finish, not now I've seen some new releases. I would not recommend this book.