Tuesday, April 25, 2023


Title: The Perfect Family

Author: Jacquie Underdown

Publisher: Self-published

Pages: 401

My GoodReads Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


I was hooked in by the Prologue, especially as the unnamed first person narrator admitted to playing a part in the necessary murder of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.


Claire Radcliffe enjoys taking a personal interest in the lives of her three grown sons, Matt, Anthony and Vaughn, and their families, particularly in the stuff they’d rather keep hidden. And there are so many secrets. Matt’s wife Nikki crashed her car on account of a stressful issue at work that she won’t tell Matt about, Anthony and Belinda are heavily in debt and Vaughn has the most damaging secret of all.

She also likes to help them out in various ways, but the help comes at a very heavy price. Claire enjoys gossiping about her own family and is very judgemental. She is prone to bad-mouthing her own kin, whether dead or alive.

At first I didn’t like any of the characters, particularly Nikki who came across as petty, Belinda who behaved strangely and Paige, Vaughn’s girlfriend, who appeared too sweet to be true.

The story is written in the 3rd person limited point of view of all the characters, with the timeline covering the present and the past.

The book raises issues of domestic violence, gaslighting and manipulation. The writing brings out the full extent of Claire’s deviousness. Having experienced gaslighting and manipulation myself, this book hit home for me.

I felt for the women. I could understand the pain that Claire was. The details that the author shares about Claire are revealing. The woman actually has voices that she uses for different occasions.

I could identify with Nikki’s efforts to bond with her babies, while Claire got in the way.

I enjoyed reading about Paige’s sewing business. My mum used to sew clothes, and reading her chapters brought those memories back to me.

The writing was good, but there were a few proofing errors that should have been weeded out. In chapter 18, Vaughn, in conversation with Belinda, speaks of Matt getting a huge contract. It should have been Anthony.

There were some interesting similes.

The boys hovered like crows at a bin on garbage collection day.

There were details that reinforced the setting, the big Aussie insects, for instance.

The only thing that remained unexplored was the aftermath of the big step that the women take. There needed to be a greater exploration of their state of mind.

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