The Playdate, by Louise Millar
Callie’s been a single mother for quite some time. With a child whose past health problems could cause trouble later on down the line, an ex who spends most of his time filming wildlife the world over, and nothing to take her out of the North London flat she inhabits with her daughter, she often turns to Suzy for a taste of life outside her cramped little life.
Neighbours, yes. Best friends? Maybe. Callie feels it’s time to pull away a bit, now that she’s found a job in her old industry and will be going back to work. But nothing goes according to plan. Tom, her ex, is none too thrilled about the idea of Callie leaving their daughter in after-school club. And why is Suzy’s husband being so distant and cold? What lurks in the new neighbour’s past, and can she be trusted with Callie’s precious little girl?
In the whirlwind of restarting her career, the people Callie relies on to support her begin to behave strangely. Who can she believe? Who can she rely on? And will her darkest secrets come out?
The Playdate struck me as a nice, relaxing read – and in a way, it really was. Despite several layers of intrigue and a nicely crafted story, it remained at the ground an easy read that was simple to follow without being so straightforward as to be boring.
With characters who might have been plucked from your own backyard (or your own North London street, if you happen to have one of those hanging around), the book strikes its readers as being familiar enough to facilitate suspension of disbelief, but simultaneously outlandish enough to keep interest and exciting enough to keep you wanting more.
What’s more; the ending is satisfying in its own right. Instead of tying up every loose end in the tidiest, prettiest bow possible, Millar keeps some bits to herself and finishes only the bits she needs to and turns what could be a story about a woman who really needs a man to make her life complete, into the story of a shy little mouse who finds the strength and the support to make her life better on her own.
A story that could be taking place in your own town right now – with believable characters and a heart-warming moral. Definitely recommended for a rainy summer day, or for those rare moments when you can sit out reading in the sun!