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Beneath the Surface

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  210 ratings  ·  162 reviews
The stunning new novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Betrayals and The Good Girl

After a chaotic childhood, Grace Vermuyden is determined her own daughters will fulfil the dreams denied to her. Lilly is everyone's golden girl, the popular, clever daughter she never had to worry about. So when she mysteriously collapses in class, Grace's carefully ordered
Published July 11th 2019 by Michael Joseph
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3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  210 ratings  ·  162 reviews

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Louise Wilson
Jul 08, 2019 rated it liked it
This story is about a dysfunctional family. The mother, Grace is hyper paranoid, the father, Patrick is ridden with debt. They have two daughters, Lily and Mia. Lily has had a seizure in class. This forces the family to take stock of the situation.

What an intense and emotionally charged read this is. It's beautifully written and shows how different people deal with the problems that life can throw at you. The characters are well developed but not all of them are likeable. The pace is slow. Quite
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grace and Patrick seem to have a happy family life bringing up 2 Daughters Lily and Mia. Lilly is the intelligent one whilst Mia lives in her own dream world. Grace did not have the perfect childhood growing up so she is adamant her children will have the perfect childhood.

When Lily collapses at school, Grace realises that she knew nothing about lily having a boyfriend who she had been spending a lot of time with secretly behind their backs. What else has she been keeping secret? The gossips ar
Jul 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The fenlands to the east of Cambridge make for a perfect setting to this story of a family whose secrets, lies and tensions lie barely hidden beneath the surface, reflecting the precarious foundations of land reclaimed from the sea. The precocious younger daughter Mia is a delightfully eccentric character who steals the show as soon as she appears, which made my interest flag when she wasn’t around, but thankfully the plot picks up towards the end.
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beneath the Surface is a potent mix of psychological thriller and domestic/family drama, and once again Ms Neill has crafted an utterly breathtaking read. You may have guessed from the somewhat enigmatic title that the story concerns secrets, lies and skeletons in the closet just waiting for the perfect time to reveal themselves, and you would be right! The reason I enjoyed it so much is that there are so many different facets to it with each coming together to create a tense, nail-biting tale a ...more
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A story about a dysfunctional family with a paranoid hyper mom Grace, a meek debt ridden father Patrick, daughters Lily and Mia. A routine life till Lily was struck down by an episode of fits in class. She survived, and stress was found to be the cause of the brain short-circuiting. Mia on the other hand had her own theories. The whole story was to see how this family functioned and to find out the reason of the fits

My first book by Fiona Neill, I liked the book in most parts. The reasons and se
Beneath the Surface wasn't as gripping as I needed it to be.
The writing was great, I enjoyed that. I'm not sure about the pacing, I picked up and put it down many times, and I didn't get a feel for it very well.
I think, for me, the characters were the problem. I didn't quite connect to them, no one was acting their age and I found those moments to be quite infuriating.
The story seemed to be an interesting one, but as I said, not as gripping as I wanted it to be. I think it's okay, it's just not
Mike Sumner
Jun 02, 2019 rated it liked it
My thanks to Penguin UK - Michael Joseph and NetGalley for my ARC of Beneath the Surface. Three stars for some laugh out loud moments (were they intentional I wonder) but otherwise I was not enthused with the Vermuydens - a dysfunctional family without many if any redeeming qualities. Apart perhaps from 10-year-old daughter Mia. (She puts me so much in mind of Karen from the TV series Outnumbered). Parents Patrick and Grace, whose marriage was boringly monotone, and elder daughter Lilly, a high ...more
Jul 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
This is the story of Grace and Patrick, who have been married for eighteen years and have two daughters, Lilly, seventeen, and Mia, who is ten. They used to live in the middle of Cambridge, but have now moved to an estate on the outskirts of the city. But there are problems with the house, and Patrick has huge money problems, which Grace doesn't know about. Patrick's brother, Rob, has money and has already given a loan to Patrick, but Patrick gave the builders only some of the money, and it wasn ...more
This story is based around a family of four: Grace, whose hugely unstable background has driven her to seek a better, more solid life for her children; her husband, Patrick, who tries hard, but often has his head in the sand until it's too late; Lilly, their older daughter, an academic high achiever who is keeping secrets, and Mia, the younger daughter, who is clearly intelligent and incredibly creative, but who struggles with many aspects of everyday life. When Lilly has a seizure at school, it ...more
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So pleased to have had the opportunity to read 'Beneath the Surface' by Fiona Neill. This is the second book that i have read by this author, having previously read 'The Betrayals'. If you ask me which i preferred, i would say this book.

An excellent read and one that had me gripped from the beginning to end. I loved the characters, who all had their own issues. My favourite being Mia, who managed to bring a smile to my face with her eccentricity. The ending was not what i was expecting, so that
Jul 12, 2019 rated it liked it
|3.5 ish|
Grace, a mother with a troubled childhood wants her daughter to fell nothings of that pain and suffering and grow up as overachievers. She is blessed with two daughters- Mia, the mischievous, eccentric kid who always lands right in the middle of trouble, and Lilly- the perfect child, with good grades and best manners.

But Grace can be overbearing at times and one day when Lilly mysteriously collapses during school, hushed secrets take turns. While Lilly is recovering, we get to know that
Rachel Bridgeman
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: july-2019
'Beneath The Surface' has so many rich layers to it that it is difficult to know where to start. It's a literary exploration of the lives of a family-2 brothers married to very different wives, Patrick, teacher, scholar, hider of secrets is married to Grace, who struggles with her own troubled background,is a journalist which is not meeting her expectations of a dream job.Patrick's brother, Rob and his wife,Ana, are unable to have children, something loudly aand explosively revealed at the very ...more
Jul 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
You can also read the review on my blog here.

Great writing and all the ingredients for a powerful story didn’t make up for the lack of excitement.

I was really excited about this book since I loved “The Betrayals” by the same author. Unfortunately, this one didn’t quite have the same effect on me. It didn’t hook me enough, and there was nothing in the storyline I felt excited about. In the end, I kept reading but I was not in a rush, I could put down the book at any time and I’d struggle to get b
Sara Oxton
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beneath the Surface by Fiona Neill a four-star read filled with drama. This is all about lies beneath the surface, but its also filled with family politics and family drama. We all know family drama is the type of drama that scratches the surface and unravels so much, its complex and thrilling, much like this story. The writing is great, and will keep you hooked for the most part, there are a few dips but overall very well done.
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After her troubled childhood, Grace Vermuyden wants a better life for her two girls Lily and Mia. Lily is a top student, expecting to go to Cambridge next year and Mia is a troubled child and always getting up to mischief. Her husband Patrick is in debt but hasn’t told his wife how much. Grace pushes her daughter Lily to do her very, very best at school. So much, that Lily has a fit at school. Her teacher must perform CPR to save her life. She survives and spends time in hospital. While her moth ...more
Dimitris Passas
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This novel is a truly well-written account of dysfunctional; familial relationships and their consequences for each member. "Beneath the Surface" is a book resistant to a single genre categorization as it is partly a crime fiction novel as well as a social commentary and family drama based on the -many- secrets and lies that lie at the core of disrupted parent-children relationships.

The four main characters are all the members of the Vermuyden family originally living in Cambridge and now reloc
With thanks to Netgalley and Penguin for this ARC in exchange for an open and honest review.

Grace and Michael Vermyden had been married for 18 years. They had two children seventeen year old Lily and ten year old Mia. Lily was the golden child, popular, an academic high achiever and talented swimmer. Mia was not as bright and was bullied by her classmates for her eccentricities. At home Mia was perceived as a problem child and often overlooked

Grace wanted to be the perfect mother and would encou
Vikki Patis
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beneath The Surface is the kind of book I wish I'd written. It is multi-layered, with several currents running through the story. Racism, parental expectations, the dynamic between older and younger sisters, family secrets and historical ones too. This is a brilliant, modern novel, even including a new build home which is falling down around their ears, with a perfect blend of commentary on socio-political issues, and fast-paced mystery which thrills and excites.
Jul 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Beneath the Surface is a family drama in which a seizure suffered by the elder daughter, 17-year old Lilly, in school becomes a catalyst for secrets, some long buried and some more recent, to come to the surface. It is also a character drama about Grace, a mother whose own unhappy and difficult childhood leads her to become an obsessive and controlling parent. While dramas about dysfunctional families with secrets are not really something I’d pick up, Fiona Neill is a good writer and Beneath the ...more
Victoria Frow
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Good. Intense and thought provoking. This is a story of one family and how lies can break through and when they do how it affects not just the individual but the family. Thank you Penguin via Netgalley for the proof copy.
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
To begin, I’d like to thank Penguin UK for sending me an ARC of this book, and to NetGalley for facilitating. And thank you to Fiona Neill!

No spoilers as usual in this review.

For me personally, I could have gone without reading this book. It didn’t grip me or move me. Mia was an interesting character but there was no point where I felt I couldn’t put the book down. I predicted the big reveal as soon as the story began and as that was the entire basis of the ending it was a bit of a let down.

Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me a while to feel really absorbed in this book but once that happened I absolutely loved it.

Essentially, this is a story of a family that is falling apart, not just in the obvious, everyday ways but in subtle ways too. It starts with a family barbecue and an argument between two couples which is witnessed by the daughters of one of them. One of those girls, Mia, has recently found a used pregnancy test kit and discovers during the course of the argument that her teenaged sister Lilly ha
Suzanne Ryan
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Human beings are nothing more than layers and layers of secrets, she decides." This is the truth that this story dwells on. Grace and Patrick are married with two daughters Lilly and Mia. Grace has never told Patrick the truth of her past life, she has spent all her life trying to avoid her past. She is living her life through her daughter Lilly and spends her time pushing Lilly to great heights as she believes a good mother would do. Patrick has his own secrets, not least that they have severe ...more
Megan Jones
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
After a chaotic childhood, Grace Vermuyden is determined her own daughters will fulfil the dreams denied to her. Lilly is everyone’s golden girl, the popular, clever daughter she never had to worry about. So when she mysteriously collapses in class, Grace’s carefully ordered world begins to unravel. Dark rumours swirl around their tight-knit community as everyone comes up with their own theories about what happened. Consumed with paranoia, and faced with increasing evidence that Lilly has been l ...more
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebooks
As a local archaeological dig unearths harsh burial rites and customs, secrets in the Vermuydens’ own more recent past threaten their fragile equilibrium in Fiona Neill’s latest novel.

The archaeological dig Mia’s class visits indicates how well-preserved the past is here, as well as how different and difficult life once was in the Fens. (The greater impact of the dig on one section of society signals that there are still disparities and where there’s room for improvement.)

The man-made landscape
Jane Hunt
A complex and insightful exploration of the modern family.

Grace, Patrick, Lilly and Mia are on the surface an ideal, nuclear family. As the story progresses, the layers are peeled away, and the controlling behaviour, emotional damage, lies and secrets are revealed, and the family implodes.

This stories most poignant message is that children need protection, sometimes even from their parents, to ensure negative behaviours, unrequited ambitions and hopes, are not instilled into them.

Mia’s chance di
Jul 21, 2019 rated it liked it
When teenager Lilly Vermuyden mysteriously collapses in class one day, the secure family life that her mother Grace has worked so hard to build and maintain starts to unravel. What follows is a tense, well-plotted and well-paced psychological tale that is a real page-tuner and which kept me engaged throughout. It’s a multi-layered story, with many subplots and minor characters, quite a “busy” book, but on the whole Neill keeps control of her subject and brings it all to a (fairly) satisfying con ...more
Jul 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After a chaotic childhood, Grace Vermuyden is determined her own daughters will fulfil the dreams denied to her. Lilly is everyone's golden girl, the popular, clever daughter she never had to worry about. So when she mysteriously has a fit in class, Grace's carefully ordered world begins to unravel.
Consumed with paranoia, and faced with increasing evidence that Lilly has been leading a secret life, Grace starts to search for clues. But left to her own devices, ten-year-old Mia develops some wil
Pat Simpson
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is about the Vermuyden family and all their hidden secrets. Grace has had a very chaotic and unhappy upbringing and so she wants everything to be perfect for her family. Husband James is struggling to make ends meet as their house needs a lot of work and he is struggling with finances. Lily, the eldest daughter is a high flyer and all set for university when she suffers a seizure at school and is hospitalised. Grace discovers that Lily has secrets of her own and has been deceiving her. ...more
Colette Lamberth
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a wee bit different to my usual reading material. I spent the majority of the book wondering where exactly we were headed and it turned out to be nowhere I had thought of. I feel a bit protective towards Mia and wish I could revisit her in a few years time just to see how she is doing. She is certainly the stand out character here. A slow, brooding sort of read that somehow manages to be gripping.
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Fiona Neill is a novelist and journalist. She was born in 1966. Her first novel The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy, based on her column in The Times Magazine every Saturday, was published in 2007. It was widely acclaimed and went on to become a Sunday Times bestseller that sold in twenty-five countries.

Brought up in Norfolk, she now lives in London with her husband and three children.

Fiona is pres