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The Playground

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  414 ratings  ·  83 reviews
Big Little Lies meets Lord of The Flies in this electrifyingly twisty follow-up to Jane Shemilt’s breakout debut The Daughter.

Over the course of a long, hot summer in London, the lives of three very different married couples collide when their children join the same tutoring circle, resulting in illicit relationships, shocking violence, and unimaginable fallout.

ebook, 384 pages
Published December 30th 2019 by William Morrow Paperbacks
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Average rating 3.66  · 
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 ·  414 ratings  ·  83 reviews

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What a wild ride, this is a playground you want to avoid taking your children to! You know how you feel when you get off one of those playground merry go rounds? A little shook, a little queasy, a little unstable, A little flustered, that’s how I felt after reading this book. Three couples Meat and form a fast friendship. Their children all get along so well and this leads to barbecues, dinners, and even vacations together. All three couples are very different, but they are all very damaged and ...more
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three families were brought together by a tutoring program for dyslexic children. There were 6 children (aged 3 to 13) and 3 sets of neglectful parents. One child went missing and then a second child went missing. Despite the fact that the culprit was obvious from the beginning, this was still an entertaining domestic suspense novel. It never veered too far into the territory of women’s fiction. The characters were self-involved twits, but they weren’t idiots. The pacing of the novel was brisk. ...more
Mackenzie - PhDiva Books
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Oh what a tangled web of secrets are woven among three couples brought together by their kids, but held together by their actions… Until something shocking occurs… This is quite a book! A character-driven novel of suspense that will suck you right in!

I loved the title for this book, The Playground, because it is the sort of metaphor that worked on many levels. And no, it isn’t a physical playground the way you would think of it. But what sort of playground games do you think might arise in a
Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)
AH-HA-HA-HA - I KNEW IT!!! **points finger and then shakes fist**

What an interesting web you weave, Shemilt! The synopsis definitely says best when it comes to Big Little Lies feels because those are definitely all there! These parents are the worst. I mean, they don't mean to be but they're so busy dealing with their own issues to really pay attention to their children. Then again, what's really right or wrong - every one has a different parenting technique. I don't even want to blame them
Melissa Borsey
Jan 15, 2020 rated it liked it
A well written disturbing story about horrible people making horrible decisions and the life altering consequences that occur. I thank Librarything and Jane Shemilt for the opportunity to read and review this book.
Crystal Zavala
Rating somewhere between 2.5-3

The Playground features three families that live in the surrounding areas of London. Eve and Eric have three children, Melissa and Paul have a teenage daughter, and Grace and Martin have two children. The three families are brought together because they all have a child who has dyslexia. Eve is a teacher and stay-at-home mom who has decided to start tutoring her oldest daughter and other dyslexic children.

From the outside, each of these families seem normal and
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
There’s a lot of things I’m not sure about in The Playground. I’m not sure if there’s really a plot line for the first half of the book. The characters, adults and children both, just go in circles around each other, manipulating and contriving. I’m not really sure what the title has to do with the book unless it’s a metaphor, since the playground built for the youngest child barely makes an appearance. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to like any of the characters since most of them are weak-willed ...more
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even though this was a fiction book, it was very disturbing. Once I started reading this book I could not put it down. There is so much going on in this story it made me angry at times and sad at times and even sick to my stomach at other times. How parents can let there children out of there site and not know what they are up to at all times is a scary thought. This book takes things up 10 notches. This is a fantastic story! I was a little disappointed in the ending but it was such an amazing ...more
Jan 07, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Domestic drama that illustrates just what can happen when adults are not paying attention to what is going on with their children. The evil might not come from the outside...

A close circle develops around Sunday tutoring when a stay-at-home mom starts giving special help to children who have dyslexia. Eve (married to Eric) comes from money and has a lovely home complete with woods, pond and donkeys. She loves cooking and allows her own children (Poppy, Sorrel and baby Ash) a lot of freedom to
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A new friendship between three sets of parents and six children develops when one child in each family takes part in tutoring for dyslexia. To say these families are different is putting it mildly. We have:
-Eve, living well on her trust fund and her husband Eric, a landscaper. They live in a large but messy house with their three children Eve believes that children shouldn't lead structured lives and should be free to play without parental interference.
-Melissa is an interior decorator who lives
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-releases
Started off slow in the beginning but I spent my entire Sunday finishing up.

Everyone's point of view kept me engrossed and I was really sad and really angry at different parts. I kind of pieced it all together early on but the story telling was really good and kept me wanting more.
Christine Moore
Three families and their children become close over the course of a summer. The parents become too focused on their selves and leave the children too much freedom. When bad things start to happen the parents are devastated. The truth is much worse than they originally thought. This was a good thriller but at times, the story doesn't make as much sense as it should. Some of the characters actions are very questionable. I received an advanced readers copy and all opinions are my own.
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
First Sentence:

It was surprising how quickly things took off in the end, like a bonfire, one of those big ones the children loved so much."

The Playground by Jane Shemilt is an insightful story that explores how engrossed some can become in their own needs and desires, and what is perceived as happiness that they ignore the glaring signs that all is not what it should be with those closest to them.

The story centers around three couples that form an unlikely yet close friendship when their
Kristin (Always With a Book)
What a wild, crazy ride this book is! If you like Big Little Lies than this is definitely your type of read, but just know, it's a touch darker, but so addicting!

You know when you see a car wreck and you just can't help but look? That's this story and I mean that in the best possible way. This book completely captured my attention and not necessarily because I liked the characters but because of all the hints of what was to come - I love books like that - it just gets under my skin and I
Stephanie Ward
3.5 Stars

'The Playground' is an adrenaline-fueled mystery full of twists and turns that fans of domestic suspense thrillers will definitely enjoy. The cast of characters is pretty large - consisting of three sets of parents and their children. There are quite a few people to keep track of and it could get a bit confusing if you didn't have a good grasp of who was who from the beginning. I found that most of the characters - the parents and the children - were all rounded and definitely complex
Jan 01, 2020 rated it liked it
First off--what is with the title? There is not one playground mentioned in this book, it has nothing to do with playgrounds. I'd call this a domestic thriller, set within a group of people who meet when they sign their children up for dyslexia tutoring (which is never really mentioned much except that it was a reason why they got together at first). The couples kind of become friends because their children become friends and everything goes from there. I saw where it was going from a mile away, ...more
Ilene Harris
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“The Playground” Starts when three different families meet for the first time for a tutoring circle conducted by Eve, an earth mother, with 4 children and a blue collar husband, but a well stocked trust fund. Then there is Melissa a successful interior designer, 1 child, a cruel banker husband who is careful to never leave visible bruises. The last is Grace a young Zimbabwean immigrant, 2 children, living in a housing project where she has to be the breadwinner and only able to get low paying ...more
Dec 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: thriller
Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book for a review. This book follows the story of three different families whose children all have dyslexia and so therefore are being tutored by the same woman. Strange stuff starts happening with the children and families a few months into the tutoring sessions. Before I read the Goodreads synopsis, I had the exact same thoughts that this was formatted and set up like Big Little Lies....but had a storyline like Lord of the Flies. I did find the ...more
Dec 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.75 stars.

The Playground (still unsure where the title comes from, there's no "playground" involved) follows 3 very different women as they embark on an unforgettable and life changing journey together. It all starts when Eve gets her certification and puts together a dyslexia tutoring group. Melissa, one of Eve's closest friends, brings her 13 year old daughter, Izzy, there in an attempt to teach her more normal behavior and find her some friends. Eve's children Ash, Sorrel, and Poppy (the
Jan 03, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. I know it's currently a very popular book with good reviews, but I wasn't as impressed as I was expecting to be. It took me a long time to get into it (admittedly, that might be because it's the busy holiday season), but I had to force myself through the first 100 pages or so. I didn't like the characters and still don't understand why they had such a "strong" friendship to last what they all go through. The book is "resolved" in about a page and a half, ...more
Diana Cosmin
Jan 14, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Started off with a “Big Little Lies” vibe, but then the plot turned boring and clumsy. The characters are totally unlikable and I figured out who “the evil” is from the first 20 pages. And not because I put together some amazingly difficult clues, but because it was blatantly obvious. Disappointing ending also.
Nov 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss, netgalley
This was a thoroughly enjoyable and deliciously wicked read. Given the subject matter of missing children, it may not be to everyone’s taste, but I loved it. Shemilt is an excellent writer and this was unputdownable.

Many thanks to Netgalley, William Morrow and Jane Shemilt for my complimentary e-copy ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Valerie in Nebraska
It’s been quite some time since I read a domestic thriller. This was the perfect book for a cold, rainy, dark weekend. In this novel, readers spend a year with three families who primarily live in London. Proximity and the educational needs of their children bring them together; when their lives become fully enmeshed, things begin to go horribly wrong. Since this is a thriller, I knew bad things would happen - most happen to children so be advised.

The title of this novel is odd, but I love the
...more Mystery & Thriller
The trouble started when Eve decided to tutor a few children with learning disabilities. They vary in ages, both boys and girls, and have different challenges to overcome. But Eve delights in having seven young people bringing warmth to her home on those special days. Eve and Eric have three children themselves, one of whom is dyslexic, so the idea serves as a double benefit. Meanwhile, Paul and Melissa’s daughter Izzy, the eldest of the class, experiences difficulty with certain subjects that ...more
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Over the course of a long, hot summer in London, the lives of three very different married couples collide when their children join the same tutoring circle, resulting in illicit relationships, shocking violence, and unimaginable fallout.

There’s Eve, a bougie earth mother with a well-stocked trust fund; she has three little ones, a blue-collar husband and is obsessed with her Instagrammable recipes and lifestyle. And Melissa, a successful interior designer whose casually cruel banker husband is
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
Dec 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Playground by Jane Shemilt is a highly recommended domestic drama.

Set in London, the lives of three very different couples and their children intertwine and become toxic in The Playground. Eve has a healthy trust fund and is married to Eric, a landscaper. They have three children, Poppy, 11, Sorrel, 6, and Ash, 3. Melissa is a successful interior designer married to Paul, an abusive, cruel banker. They have one child, Isabelle (Izzy), 13. Grace is an immigrant from Zimbabwe who is married to
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.

The Playground by Jane Shemilt is a riveting mystery and fascinating character study.

Eve Kershaw is a stay at home mum to daughters Poppy and Sorrel and three year old Ash. She and her husband Eric live in her family home on a sprawling estate surrounded by dense woods. Eve provides minimal supervision as their children spend their days playing outdoors. She is excited to begin tutoring children with dyslexia and Eve is delighted by the unexpected friendships that form amongst both the
Dec 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: partner-read
Thanks to William Morrow and TLC Book Tours for the free copy in exchange for my honest review and blog tour feature

THE PLAYGROUND by Jane Shemilt is the perfect lighter suspense read to cozy up with during the cold weather this winter. I’m happy I went into it kind of blindly (I need to get better at rereading the synopses before starting!) so that I wasn’t anticipating a crazy and twisty thriller. While there are some twists and turns throughout the book there is plenty of drama and
Jessica Bailey
Jan 18, 2020 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fine book, interest in every line. Nothing thrown away, nothing there just because life's like that. It's not so much a who did it or a why did it. The perpetrator is pretty clear from the outset, and meant to be, I think. It's not for nothing that Lord of the Flies is referenced. And somehow one can't help thinking of Omen and such like movies, and probably TV dramas I don't know. It's the parents: they don't know. They are wrong and aren't. The drive of the story is to how they find out, what ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Book description is for another title 3 17 May 15, 2019 12:36PM  

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Jane is a general practitioner who completed a post graduate diploma in Creative Writing at Bristol university and went on to study for a M.A in Creative writing at Bath Spa. She was shortlisted for the Janklow and Nesbitt award and the Lucy Cavendish fiction prize for Daughter, her first novel.

She and her husband, a Professor of Neurosurgery, have 5 children and live in Bristol, England.
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