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The Perfect Mother

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  819 ratings  ·  160 reviews
When an American exchange student is accused of murder, her mother will stop at nothing to save her.

A midnight phone call shatters Jennifer Lewis’s carefully orchestrated life. Her daughter, Emma, who’s studying abroad in Spain, has been arrested after the brutal murder of another student. Jennifer rushes to her side, certain the arrest is a terrible mistake an
Paperback, 256 pages
Published November 25th 2014 by Plume
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Average rating 3.44  · 
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 ·  819 ratings  ·  160 reviews

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Nov 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jennifer Lewis is sleeping one night in her Connecticut home, when she receives a telephone call. It is from her eldest child, twenty year old Emma, who has been living, and studying, in Spain for the last eight months. Emma blurts out a tale of a man being killed in her apartment and asks her parents to come and help her. However, husband Mark – a lawyer himself – suggests that Jennifer go to Spain first and that he will join her there. Before long, Jennifer has left behind her other children, ...more
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review is a little late coming as I didn't realize I hadn't yet updated it even though I finished it over a month ago.

This book caught my attention as it's description seemed to have many similarities to the Amanda Knox case.

Jennifer Lewis is shocked when she is awakened in the night by a phone call from her terrified daughter Emma. Calling from Spain Emma begs her mother to come quickly as there has been a murder and she is in jail. Of course Jennifer quickly makes arrangements for the c
Heather Fineisen
Do we ever know our children or ourselves? This seems to be the question Nina Darnton is asking in The Perfect Mother and it is universal. This book has been called a knock off or fictional take on the Amanda Knox Case. Not really. That's like saying I'm a knockoff of Kate Upton because we wear the same bra size, but our boobs just aren't in the same place.
Yes there is a murder involving an American student but in Spain and the victim is male. This story focuses on the mother's story and h
Cleopatra  Pullen
Nov 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The premise to this book had me hooked, Jennifer is the mother to three children the eldest of which is Emma who at twenty is studying in Spain. One night Jennifer takes a phone call that changes her life, Emma is at the Police station, suspect in the murder of a local boy. I love books that let me play the ‘What would I do game’ and this is definitely one of those reads.

This book is as much about Jennifer and her relationships than the murder of Rodrigo Perez which almost becomes th
Cynthia (Bingeing On Books)
Dec 07, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: arcs, one-star
This is an interesting story about murder and motherhood. The story is told from Jennifer's point of view and the book delves deeply into how the murder accusations effect the accused's family. I was interested in the storyline and figuring our whether Emma was innocent or guilty. But there was something about the book that put me off a little. I am sure everyone has heard the motto for writers: show, don't tell. Well this author did not show very much. For instance, when the author was describi ...more
Amanda - Go Book Yourself
Nov 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Review also posted @ Go Book Yourself

This was such a gem! I stumbled across this by chance on Netgalley and requested it on a whim. I'm so glad I did . The past few books I've read have been mediocre so this was a breath of fresh air.

The perfect mother is a work of fiction but is very reminiscent of the Amanda Knox case.

Jennifer gets a late night phone call from her daughter. When your a parent late night phone calls always set alarm bells ringing. When your child is in a different country it's 10 times worse. Her daughter Emm
Charlotte Lynn
Oct 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Perfect Mother started with a midnight phone call. That was the only part that I was expecting. I thought this would be a book about the judicial system of Spain and how an American is unfairly treated. I was wrong. This is not a book about Emma, it is more the story of Jennifer, the mother. It is a story on how she had always taken care of her family, sometimes to the extreme, and how it has made Emma the student and person she has become. There were points in the book that I stopped and qu ...more
Dec 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014
2.5 stars

I thought this book was okay. I really did not like Jennifer or Emma. I thought they were both spoiled, whiny and entitled. At some points, I found myself rooting against them because I found them so unlikeable. Jennifer views her daughter Emma as having no faults at all and explains away everything that Emma does wrong, even her part in the murder of a young Spanish man. My dislike only increased as she pines away for the PI helping her work on her daughter's case. She just
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
The Hook - As a mother a book with the title The Perfect Mother called out to me. Who is this woman? Well, let’s find out.

The Line”Your children can get into trouble without it having anything to do with you.”

The Sinker – A story pulled right out of the headlines, The Perfect Mother is an exploration of a parent’s or in this case perhaps, a mother’s worst nightmare. The mother, Jennifer Lewis is the proud mother of Emma Lewis. She’s a Princeton exchange student studying in Spain and all seems well with the world. Then/>The
Jan 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
During the Amanda Knox trial, the U.S. press regaled us with the Italians labeling Knox as 'Foxy Knoxy,' an American girl gone wild while studying in Italy. Her family was presented as a bunch of sad sacks, mortgaging their lives for their ne'er-do-well daughter. Was Knox guilty? Innocent? As much a victim as the deceased girl? We know what the Italian court said the first time, but they've now determined that Knox needs to stand trial again.

Did she do it?

As I read The Pe
Mar 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
** I received this in a Goodreads “First Reads” giveaway **

Jennifer Lewis is so certain that everything in her life is perfect she is not even worried when the phone rings in the middle of the night. Regrettably for the Lewis family, the axiom holds true, and the phone call is very bad news. Their daughter Emma, studying abroad in Spain for a year, is being detained as a “person of interest” in the brutal murder of another student which took place in her apartment.

Nov 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Darnton provides an entertaining second novel, even if its foundation is pulled from the headlines in a case most tabloid-hungry folks know all too well. When Jennifer Lewis receives a frantic phone call from her daughter, things take a dramatic turn. Emma has been detained in Seville, Spain and is being questioned about a murder within her flat. Jennifer drops everything and heads to Europe, keen to clear things up and bring Emma back to the States. When Jennifer arrives, she discovers that thi ...more
Jennifer's daughter Emma is in terrible trouble, she is living in Spain and is subject to Spain's laws.

Jennifer's husband is a Lawyer but not adverse in Spanish law. He wants to be with Emma and Jennifer in Spain to support them but he cannot due to his pull of work to his clients. He has cases himself to see to, plus, he needs to keep making money now that its needed for his wife to remain in Spain to support their daughter.

Jennifer has always prided herself on being a g
Nov 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-review
ARC for review.

As with the wonderful Cartwheel this book has its base in the Amanda Knox story...beautiful, young, naive college student living abroad is charged with murder. I thoroughly enjoyed this in a "beach book" kind of way. Emma (the daughter) is horrible and awful - you love to hate her - seriously, you are nineteen or twenty and jailed in a foreign country and you want to give the police and detectives speeches about social justice? Idealism is great and all, but you know what isn't so great?
Oct 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Similar to a recent news story but different in plot, this novel examines how much a parent is to blame for the child's behavior. Jennifer Lewis receives a phone call in the middle of the night from her college-age daughter, who is studying in Spain and has just been charged with murder. Jennifer, at first an unfailing supporter of her daughter, is forced to examine that her daughter is not the perfect child that she imagined and her parenting choices might be to blame. Part mystery, part cautio ...more
Melanie Johnson
Nov 10, 2014 rated it liked it
When you begin to read this book, you quickly realize that you have heard this story before. Remember Amanda Knox, the American that was studying in Italy and went to prison for killing her boyfriend? This story is in much the same vein. Emma is living abroad in Spain and has been charged with killing and/or being an accomplice of a man that entered in her apartment with the intent of raping her. Jennifer is the "Perfect Mother" who has raised Emma and her brother and sister with all of the thin ...more
Nov 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I received a free copy of The Perfect Mother from the publisher through Netgalley. And I am glad I did. The story is loosely based on the Amanda Knox story, told from the point of view of a mother who's daughter is accused of murder while studying in Spain. It's a very quick and easy read, but I nust admit that I had a hard time putting it down and the story has stayed with me. Darnton does a good job of conveying the tension between the mother's sense of loyalty to her daughter and the reality ...more
Margaret Madden
Dec 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
A happy, healthy all American family. Mom, Dad, three perfect kids. One late night phone call changes all that...

Jennifer Lewis, stay at home mother, former actress and model, and wife to successful lawyer, Mark, receives a call from her student daughter, Emma, from a police station in Spain. She has been linked to the murder of a young Spanish man and the details are sketchy. Jennifer swings into action and boards the first flight, to try to help her twenty year old in her hour of
Laurie Larson-Doornbos
Dec 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Perfect Mother
Nina Darton

Jennifer Lewis leads a perfect life—her Connecticut home is oh-so-shabby-chic, her lawyer husband handsome and successful, her three children active and popular. Jennifer herself gave up a career as a model and TV actress so that she could dedicate all of her time to family. Jennifer is the Perfect Mother.

Until a middle-of-the-night phone call threatens to destroy her reality. Daughter Emma, spending her junior year (from Princeton, no less!) abroa
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

2.5 stars.

This book had a lot of potential, but ultimately didn't live up to its promise.

If you haven't been living under a rock in the last decade, you've probably heard the story of Amanda Knox, the American foreign exchange student who got involved in a salacious murder in Italy. Well, this is the story of Emma, a privileged Princeton student, who runs into a bit of trouble--and
Feb 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
Whenever you hear that a child has died, one of the first thoughts that may come to mind is "Their poor mother, how will they move on?" But when you hear about the accused murderer, do you feel the same? "The Perfect Mother" will make you think that way going forward.

Jennifer is your average American wife. She's got a successful husband, Mark, and three beautiful children: Emma, Lily and Eric. Her eldest Emma has been studying in Spain for almost a year. Yes, it would seem Jennifer h
Jan 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
Amazon recommended that I read The Perfect Mother. I said, "This must be because I AM a Perfect Mother!" My 11-year old rolled his eyes and continued to ignore me. The 8 year old said, "Not really, sorry," as he gave my hand an apologetic squeeze. The 2 year-old said, "Shh, quiet, I'm watching SpongeBob!"

So clearly I am not anywhere close to being a Perfect Mother. Maybe that is why I did not like this book. Jennifer Lewis is a former actress/model who is now a stay-at-home mother to
Nov 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-read-2014
The Perfect Mother is an interesting book. It will hold the attention of some readers because of its attempt to mirror the Amanda Knox case and interesting to me because I believe it addresses the issue of “helicopter” parents and does it quite convincingly. Jennifer Lewis is an excellent example of this parenting style and sadly, not an exaggeration. Her daughter, Emma, is hopefully an exaggerated illustration of its result. It wasn’t the story itself that held my attention, but the mother’s th ...more
Lisa Wolf
For a legal thriller, The Perfect Mother is really lacking in suspense. As seen through the eyes of a well-off, self-satisfied "perfect" mother, this story of a daughter caught up in a criminal investigation while on her junior abroad is really every parent's worst nightmare: The seemingly ideal daughter is suddenly implicated in a murder, has turned cold and hostile, and seems to hate everything the parents stand for. The more Jennifer tries to help Emma, the more alienated she becomes, not jus ...more
C Solis-Sublette
Jan 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Popcorn fiction at its finest, I think. The plot reads like a Lifetime movie but it was an enjoyable read that kept me reading until I found out how it was going to turn out. Jennifer, the mom, is a pretty well developed character but, perhaps, a little cliche. She is every affluent SAHM we have met or, maybe, how we imagine them to be. Emma is rather flat and not likable at all. The men assume their predictable roles. I guess this novel is pretty bad as far as character goes but...who cares? It ...more
Nov 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Make sure you start this book when you don't have to get up early in the morning the next day. because you won't be able to put it down. It's a page turner, for sure. But as compelling as the plot is the complex psychological exploration of relationships--marital and parental. Who can you trust? Who can you actually know? How we only see what we believe. It's a quick read, but you'll be thinking about The Perfect Mother for a long time. Haunting. I don't know what I would have done in the same s ...more
Nov 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Perfect Mother seemed to mirror some real events in the news from the past few years. Jennifer is so proud of the job she has done, raising well-adjusted children and living the perfect suburban life. As the story unfolds, however, you realize her life isn't as ideal as she likes to think, but she has become a master of overlooking the cracks and imperfections. Her daughter Emma has been accused of murder, and Jennifer is forced to open her eyes to a side of Emma that she never imagined. Jen ...more
Oct 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
A friend of mine loaned me the ARC for this new novel and I was captivated in just a few pages and finished it in less than 24 hours. I found this story intriguing in the same way that I have recently enjoyed Liane Moriarty's novels, The Husband's Secret and Big Little Lies, as well as Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. The Perfect Mother will be published in November. I highly recommend it, especially to mothers who are raising or have raised college age young women. How far would you go to help and p ...more
Jul 05, 2015 rated it liked it
I spotted this at the library when looking for some juicy summer reading. The premise (which is on the back of the book so I'm not giving anything away) is the 20 year old Princeton junior is in Spain when she is accused of murder. What a horrible call to get in the middle of the night. Characters and dialogue seemed very believable. A situation that I hope is total fiction for all of us. This chick and Lisa Genova should get together for happy hour.
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A journalist for thirty years, Nina Darnton wrote her first novel, An African Affair three years ago and never looked back. Her second novel, The Perfect Mother will be published by Plume on November 29th, 2014.
Nina is married to the journalist and novelist John Darnton. They have three children and four grandchildren and live in New York City and New Paltz, New York.