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Picture of Innocence

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You love your family. You’d never let anything happen to them… would you?

With three children under ten, Maddie is struggling. On the outside, she’s a happy young mother, running a charity as well as a household. But inside, she’s exhausted. She knows she’s lucky to have to have a support network around her. Not just her loving husband, but her family and friends too.

But is Maddie putting her trust in the right people? Because when tragedy strikes, she is certain someone has hurt her child – and everyone is a suspect, including Maddie herself…

400 pages, Paperback

First published April 18, 2019

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T.J. Stimson

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 160 reviews
Profile Image for Michelle .
862 reviews1,224 followers
May 17, 2019
I have to say that after turning the last page that the title and synopsis for this book really does give too much away. I guessed the who very early on and I was correct.

Maddie is the mother of three children, Emily, Jacob, and two month old Noah who suffers from Colic. No matter what Maddie does it seems she can never get Noah to settle. His screams and cries pierce the silence day and night leaving Maddie physically and emotionally exhausted. When she wakes one morning after having a full nights sleep she can't believe it. Noah has slept through the night for the very first time. When she goes to gather him from his crib she realizes to her horror that Noah didn't sleep through the night, he died.

After the autopsy is performed it appears that this wasn't a case of crib death after all. It looks like shaken baby syndrome and now every one becomes a suspect and everyone has secrets to spill.

Along side Maddie's story we have that of Lydia. Lydia is a young girl raised by her prostitute mother, Mae. Lydia has been raised to believe that she is worthless and evil. Mae subjects her to all sorts of abuse be it physical, sexual, or psychological.

As you read you will see how these two stories become connected.

This book was just meh for me. Maddie is someone that I should have felt sorry for but I just didn't. I found her chapters to be repetitive and boring and her as a character incredibly annoying. Maybe I'm just growing tired of the woman that suffers black outs making her appear as an unreliable narrator trope. Every chapter has her questioning herself but also hurling accusations at everyone around her.

Lydia's chapters on the other hand are very, very disturbing and I had a hard time reading them even causing me to skim from time to time. The word c*nt is used a lot so if that is something that bothers you then steer clear.

While I did figure out the who I'll admit that I didn't guess how the stories were connected until the reveal so that was a treat. 2 stars!

Thank you to NetGalley and Avon Books UK for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Profile Image for Sandysbookaday is (reluctantly) on hiatus.
1,928 reviews2,018 followers
October 19, 2019
EXCERPT: I crawl back into bed and stare blindly up into the darkness. I won't sleep; not tonight, not for many nights to come. I doubt I'll ever sleep soundly again.

I start to shake. The adrenalin that brought me this far suddenly drains away and I begin to shiver so violently my muscles cramp. I press my fist against my mouth to still the chatter of my teeth. If I had anything left in my stomach, I would be sick again.

I've always thought of myself as a fundamentally good person. I'm not perfect, but I've spent a lifetime trying to do the right thing. I rescue spiders from the bath; I stop traffic to let a mother lead her row of ducklings across the road. A month ago I'd never have believed myself capable of killing a mouse, never mind another human being in cold blood.

But human nature had an infinite capacity to surprise.

We teach our children to fear dark alleys and strangers, but the real danger is much closer to home. You're more than twice as likely to be murdered by someone you love than by someone you've never met. If you're a child, it's nearer three times. If you want a reason to be scared, look in the mirror.

Evil doesn't have two horns and a tail. It's ordinary, just like me.

Those jealous husbands who bludgeon their wives to death, the women who smother their babies, the estranged fathers who lock their children in the car and connect the exhaust. Ordinary men and women, all of them.

Just like me.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: My name is Lydia. I’m 12 years old. I’m not an evil person, but I did something bad.

My name is Maddie. I’d never hurt my son. But can I be sure if I don’t remember?

With three children under ten, Maddie is struggling. On the outside, she’s a happy young mother, running a charity as well as a household. But inside, she’s exhausted. She knows she’s lucky to have to have a support network around her. Not just her loving husband, but her family and friends too.

But is Maddie putting her trust in the right people? Because when tragedy strikes, she is certain someone has hurt her child – and everyone is a suspect, including Maddie herself…

The women in this book are about to discover that looks can be deceiving… because anyone is capable of terrible things. Even the most innocent, even you.

This is the story of every mother’s worst fear. But it’s not a story you know… and nothing is what it seems.

MY THOUGHTS: I read Picture of Innocence in one sitting; horrified and appalled, I honestly felt like one of those people who stands around rubbernecking at an accident site. But I could not put this down. Chilling, twisty and addictive reading.

It is hard to say that I could enjoy a book that is as dark and disturbing as this - WARNING: there are plenty of triggers for those so affected - but I did. I could empathise with Maggie and her struggle with Noah, having had a baby who never slept and screamed with colic for hours on end. I was lucky. I also had a strong support network, but still I struggled.

And Lydia....oh, Lydia, what that child endured.

Know, going into this book, that you are heading for a train wreck. Be prepared for carnage. Be prepared to have your heart ripped out of your breast, to experience turmoil.

This book is not for the faint-hearted. I loved it.

5 stars

P.S. - this book appears to have renamed 'The Mother'.

THE AUTHOR: Writing as Tess Stimson, T J Stimson is the author of eleven novels, including top ten bestseller The Adultery Club, and two non-fiction books, which between them have been translated into dozens of languages.
A former journalist and reporter, Stimson was appointed Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Florida in 2002 and moved to the US. She now lives and works in Vermont with her husband Erik, their three children, and (at the last count) two cats, three fish, one gerbil and a large number of bats in the attic.
Picture of Innocence is T J Stimson's first foray into psychological thrillers.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Avon Books via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of Picture of innocence by T.J. Stimson for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This and other reviews are also published on Twitter, Amazon and my webpage https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/...
Profile Image for Jayme.
1,107 reviews1,749 followers
May 18, 2019
This is a hard book for me to review for two reasons. The first being that I read the publisher’s synopsis, and I feel that it says too much. I had this one figured out from the get-go. The second, being that it is a GUT WRENCHING domestic thriller, which is not where MY personal tastes lie, so I cannot say that I enjoyed this story. (Revised rating after some reflection)

With that being said, however, I DO think the book is well written and that readers who do prefer their mystery/thrillers on the darker, more disturbing side might be more satisfied than I was. One positive-a plausible, satisfying conclusion which seems elusive in many of the thrillers that I have read to date.

So, go in as blind as possible.

Do not read if your triggers are psychological and sexual abuse of a child. This is a big part of a second narrative of a child named Lydia, which will intersect with Maddie’s later on in the book.

All you do need to know is that Maddie , a mother of three young children, wakes up to find her youngest son, Noah, dead in his cot. Some of his bruises have the police questioning if it was a simple case of cot death or not. Maddie becomes the prime suspect, due to the fact that the drugs she has been taking for her postpartum depression, seem to be causing her to have memory lapses, and blackouts.

This is a realistic portrayal of a family suffering through the heart breaking loss of a baby. One where each family member wonders who they can trust.

Maddie even begins to question if it could be possible that she is the one who hurt her infant son.

But, there are several other viable suspects.

And, they are all hiding something.



I would like to thank Netgalley, Avon books and T J Stimson for allowing me to read this digital copy shortly after it was published in exchange for a candid review! This title is available NOW!!
Profile Image for Mark.
1,098 reviews
April 18, 2019
DISTURBING
This book is not a cozy read, nor one to ‘enjoy’ or with even a smidgen of humour in it, it wont make you feel good nor lighten your mood, it
includes in the build up to the main story sections on all kinds
of abuse and brutality suffered in childhood by one of the books main characters, it is a harrowing, shocking look into a young girls life and why she did as she did at such a young age ( further on in the book )
It’s important ( to me ) to be honest in a review and this part of the book was difficult and I did have to skip parts of it ( once over the sections that deal with it it is only referred to and not gone into detail again )
Its quite a long book and I did guess the ending about half way through although the reason for the person doing as they did was still shocking, It’s very hard to say anything about this story without giving any clues away to the plot and could
easily give the whole storyline away and then the book would be ruined for the reader
Some of the characters you meet will repulse you, I dont think I have hated anyone in a book as much as Mae for a long time, pure evil
It IS a well written story, it oozes tenseness and you want a resolve to ‘the situation’ for the innocents
A book its impossible to forget once read and will leave you unnerved
8/10 4 Stars
Profile Image for Amanda.
710 reviews236 followers
April 29, 2019
This dark but addictive read explores what it is like to tragically lose a child and the impact it has on the rest of the family.

Maddie is struggling to bring up 3 children under the age of 10 she has suffered with post natal depression and is on medication that may be causing her to suffer memory loss and blackouts.

When their youngest Noah is discovered dead in his cot and it’s soon discovered it is not a natural death, she becomes the prime suspect. Could she have done it during a black out!!

We are also introduced to Lydia a poor child who is abused physically and sexually, she commits a terrible crime and is sent to prison. This story kept me guessing at what the link between the 2 stories were.

At times this book is dark and disturbing but it is also highly addictive and I read it in 1 day as I couldn’t wait to see what happens.

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy in exchange for a review.
Profile Image for Dash fan .
1,457 reviews707 followers
April 25, 2019
4☆ Twisty, Domestic Thriller that will get under your skin!

Picture of Innocence is a dark twisty Domestic thriller that gets under your skin.
Just reading the blurb filled me with intrigue.

I'm not going to go into the plot as I don't want to risk giving anything away.

What I will say is Maddie has been suffering from depression and is struggling with life and motherhood. Appearances can be very deceptive!
But what follows next for Maddie is every mother's worst nightmare and I really mean that. What Maddie goes through is gut wrenching.

There are some pretty sensitive subjects such as child abuse and violence, depression, which some readers may find difficult to read, however Stimson has handled them with the right amount of sensitivity.

Picture of Innocence is a Taut, dark and Compelling read, it's full of complex twists I didn't see coming.
At times it's a difficult read, but It's Pacy and Enthralling, you can't help being drawn into the turmoil and heartbreak as you start to uncover the truth.

If you enjoy your Domestic Thrillers to have a chilling psychological twist, that will get under your skin and is somewhat thought provoking then you should definitely read Picture of Innocence by T.J Stimson .

Thank you to Avon books for this copy which I reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

My Review is also on my Blog Website :-

https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/2019/0...
Profile Image for Ken.
2,136 reviews1,316 followers
April 25, 2019
A dark but rewarding read that sensitively tackles the death of a small child, along with the immediate impact of the tragic events for the family.
This emotionally charged novel had me hooked.

Maddie is struggling to raise three children all under the age of ten, the exhausted housewife is still medicated for postnatal depression after the birth of her second child continues to also experience memory loss and blackouts.
When the youngest child Noah is found dead in he’s cot, she’s instantly the prime suspect for his death.

The characters are so brilliantly written and I found that I instantly warmed to Maddie, I just had a feeling that she wouldn’t hurt her child.
I was really rooting for her and hoped she would get the support she needed, at times it felt like no one believed her - liking this character is instrumental to being able to enjoy this book.

There’s plenty of other suspects and my theories constantly changed throughout the story, eagle eye readers should be able to pick up on the many clues as they slowly fall into place.

It’s hard to enjoy a book with this subject matter, but the fact that I was desperate for a satisfying ending reflects my rating.
Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Shalini.
2,496 reviews198 followers
April 11, 2019
This book chilled me deep into my core. I found myself trembling late at night when I finally finished the book. The ending of the story would stay with me for a long time just imagining that scene and its repercussions.

A new mother with 3 children and no sleep with post natal depression and memory lapses  made a soul crushing discovery one morning when she found her 2 month old child dead. Was it crib death or foul play?

Author T J Stimson has done a brilliant job making me run around in circles suspecting everyone. I loved the way each character appeared guilty; they definitely had their secrets. The characters around the mother sometimes appeared so supportive, and then there would be a truth released about them which would make me go back to suspecting them.

The plot had 2 stories running in 2 different timelines, and oh, I did think I knew it all and I felt quite righteous. But I wasn't. I guessed one part of the story, the other was a shock!! I loved the way the author has fitted the pieces of subplots, because it was that end picture which made me want to run away and escape the truth. The reality of that truth exposed in the finale was chilling.
Evil is found everywhere, sometimes more closer to home, isn't it?


Overall, I loved the book because it affected me badly and has still kept me in its grips, hours after reading it. The plot may seem familiar, but it has its twists. The ending though guess-able, still blew me away. Ah, definitely unputdownable!!
Profile Image for NZLisaM.
414 reviews366 followers
April 23, 2019
A hard-hitting domestic thriller that delves into the darker side of family life.

Maddie – Awakens one morning to a mother's worst nightmare – her infant son, Noah, lies dead in his cot. And, with her husband away, she's the police’s number one suspect. Maddie's convinced she could never hurt her own child, but the medication she's been on since the postpartum depression she had after her middle child, Jacob, was born, sometimes causes her to experience blackouts and time lapses.

Lydia – A young girl, growing up in an extremely abusive household,

How do Maddie’s and Lydia's stories intersect?

4.5 rounded up to 5. Perfectly paired psychological suspense and domestic noir, that highlights some controversial moral questions. Maddie’s story was a relatable family setting, torn apart by tragedy and dishonesty. At times it made for heartbreaking reading, since it involved the unexpected and suspicious death of a baby. At others, tense and taut, as long buried secrets came to light, and Maddie struggled over who in her life to trust, and believe, as well as doubting her own innocence due to her bouts of amnesia. Lydia’s arc was shockingly sad, and tough going – trigger warnings in spoiler tag below. Both POV's were engrossing, emotional, and addictive, and layered with twist after twist.

The plot flowed well, and never dragged, with realistic dialogue that made sense. When Noah died, the part that really got me was how sensitively pathologists and police deal with grieving families who've just lost a baby. I leant things that I didn't know that they did, and it was this level of detail throughout that elevated the story, and made everything that was happening all the more real and emotionally impacting.

I encourage you to slot this one into your busy reading schedule, as it is not to be missed.

I'd like to thank Netgalley, Avon Books UK, and TJ Stimson for the e-ARC.

Available now!

Profile Image for Nina.
766 reviews154 followers
June 5, 2022
This magnificent thriller had everything; A fast pace, lots of questions and twists that actually made sense. I also liked that the author has done her research, I didn’t react or felt annoyed by errors when it comes to mental health issues. I also felt moved by the characters, their emotions felt real to me. There was enough characters to keep you guessing, but not too many to feel confused. Really well done, Stimson!
Profile Image for Jeanette.
1,129 reviews54 followers
February 4, 2019
The 'Picture of Innocence' has to be one of my favourite psychological thrillers that i have read for some time. So many twists and turns, which had me guessing right to the end. Each time i thought i had it figured out, so the story took another twist. I also enjoyed that the story was based around areas that i know. It is the first time that i have read a book by this author and am keen to read more. I seldom write what a story is about as i prefer one to read it for themselves, but i do highly recommend this book.

My thanks to Netgalley and the Publishers for my copy.
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,405 reviews989 followers
November 15, 2018
Emotional family drama with psychological thriller elements, Picture of Innocence is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, with some realistically drawn characters and a huge moral dilemma right at the heart of it.

Picture of Innocence explores themes of nature v nurture, grief and loss and how far we'd go to protect those we love.

Ms Stimson keeps you turning those pages, especially after tragedy strikes and we are in the realms of every parent's worst nightmare. The underlying emotional core is brilliantly described and completely heart breaking- this is one of the huge strengths of this story because you are edgy and worried what will be revealed..

To be fair at a certain point well before the end it does become pretty clear who has done what, if indeed anyone has - but it's right at the moment that you get that realisation, even before it's spoken, that you want to weep for them all.

An intelligent plot, well drawn characters, a difficult subject tackled extremely well, that's "A Picture of Innocence and I definitely recommend it.

Review to be updated to my website nearer publication.
Profile Image for Louise Wilson.
2,681 reviews1,610 followers
April 13, 2019
With three children under the age of ten, Maddie is struggling. On the outside, she's a happy young mother, running a charity as well as a household. Bit inside, she's exhausted. She knows she's lucky to have a support network around her. A loving husband, family and friends, but is Maddie putting her trust in the right people? When tragedy strikes, she is certain someone has hurt her child.

I was hooked from the start of this book. Maddie is having blackouts. Noah, her newest baby, has died in his cot. Everyone seems to be blaming Maddie. We also learn about Lydia, a little girl who experiences violence and neglect. We later find out what the connection is between Lydia and Maddie. This story deals with some very emotional and difficult subjects. The twists are plentiful, some I didn't see coming, especially the two at the end. I found this book hard to put down as I needed to get to the conclusion. A very well written book.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Avon Books UK and the author T. J. Stimson for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Joanne Robertson.
1,349 reviews550 followers
May 11, 2019

Oh I really loved this one! I want to say that I really enjoyed it but that seems a rather inappropriate word for how I felt after I read this heartbreaking and disturbing family oriented psychological thriller. It got beneath my skin very quickly once I started reading it and I was compelled to read it whenever I could, even taking it to work with me to finish during my lunch break as I couldn’t wait until I got home that day to finish it.

I empathised with Maddie right from the start. As a mum of three ( all aged within 2 years of each other) I remember well the utter exhaustion that used to descend upon me after a particularly tough day. The feelings of guilt, worry and the endless task of trying to be all things to all people are mentally exhausting as well as physically draining so I totally understood how she felt. The plot was slowly knitted together by the two narrators (Maddie and a young girl called Lydia) until both points of view collided in a shocking and unexpected moment. There were plenty of clues along the twisty path for us to pick up on but there was still a sharp intake of breath from me once things became much clearer with a big reveal!

This book looks to my favourite argument, that of nature vs nurture, in it’s need to understand the behaviour of some of the characters. It’s not an easy read at times due to descriptions of abuse and cruelty but not one word is wasted in its search for answers. The grief felt by Maddie is palpable and I read this with tears in my eyes at time, an unusual occurrence for a book marketed as a psychological thriller but it had a profound effect on me.

Beautifully written, expertly crafted and with a brilliant ending that hasn’t left me in the days since I read this. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Adele Shea.
468 reviews14 followers
May 2, 2019
T J Stimson's Picture of Innocence is an absolute fantastic book. Edge of your seat material at its best.
Profile Image for Melissa In The City.
260 reviews31 followers
November 24, 2018
5 stars for this twisted, sad, emotional mind game of a book.
Yes, lots of this book were hard to read due to the topics and situations but the author did a superb job of handling those topics. It was no different than watching Olivia Bensen handle an SVU case.
I really enjoyed the two stories of two women in two different periods of time and watching how those stories intertwined,
The ending?! Wow didn’t see that coming!

Thank you #Netgalley, the author and publisher for my free ARC in exchange for my honest review. I highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for Jayme.
1,107 reviews1,749 followers
May 12, 2019
This is a hard book for me to review for two reasons. The first being that I read the publisher’s synopsis, and I feel that it says too much. I had this one figured out from the get-go. The second, being that it is a GUT WRENCHING domestic thriller, which is not where MY personal tastes lie, so I cannot say that I enjoyed this story.

With that being said, however, I DO think the book is well written and that readers who do prefer their mystery/thrillers on the darker, more disturbing side WILL be satisfied. Also a plus, a plausible, satisfying conclusion which seems elusive in many of the thrillers that I have read to date.

So, go in as blind as possible.

Do not read if your triggers are psychological and sexual abuse of a child. This is a big part of a second narrative of a child named Lydia, which will intersect with Maddie’s later on in the book.

All you do need to know is that Maddie , a mother of three young children, wakes up to find her youngest son, Noah, dead in his cot. Some of his bruises have the police questioning if it was a simple case of cot death or not. Maddie becomes the prime suspect, due to the fact that the drugs she has been taking for her postpartum depression, seem to be causing her to have memory lapses, and blackouts.

This is a realistic portrayal of a family suffering through the heart breaking loss of a baby. One where each family member wonders who they can trust.

Maddie even begins to question if it could be possible that she is the one who hurt her infant son.

But, there are several other viable suspects.

And, they are all hiding something.

I would like to thank Netgalley, Avon books and T J Stimson for allowing me to read this digital copy shortly after it was published in exchange for a candid review! This title is available NOW!!
Profile Image for Eva.
803 reviews416 followers
April 26, 2019
Maddie is busy, busy, busy. With three children under the age of ten and running a sanctuary, she is tired. Oh, so very tired. Maddie has a wonderful support network in family and friends but when her baby is hurt, everyone suddenly turns into a suspect. Was Maddie so exhausted, she harmed her own child? Or was someone else responsible?

Picture of Innocence is part psychological thriller and part truly heartbreaking family drama. It’s immensely emotional seeing a family go through the hardships Maddie and her family have to deal with. Combined with chilling and disturbing chapters set in the past, this quickly turned into a gripping and absorbing read.

It’s incredibly easy to imagine the paranoia Maddie goes through from sheer exhaustion. I’m sure many of us can relate to that kind of fatigue that seems to settle in your bones, that causes such a massive fog in your brain that you just can’t think straight. When that happens, it’s not hard to jump to conclusions, to be forgetful, to mistrust those around you because they make you feel like you’re going crazy. Maddie doesn’t trust anyone, including herself.

This well-paced story once again brings to the fore the debate of nature versus nurture. That’ll never get old, will it? I find it extremely fascinating and in that respect, this book is perfect for a discussion on the topic. That includes the ending in the “what would you have done?” kind of way.

I did figure things out, yet found myself wishing I was wrong in that way that nobody wants to think someone could purposefully hurt a child. This story deals with some dark and harrowing topics, turning things into quite an emotional ride. With plenty of twists and turns, Picture of Innocence is a gripping tale that will keep you glued to the pages.
Profile Image for Lou (nonfiction fiend).
2,771 reviews1,617 followers
April 18, 2019
There are so many domestic thrillers on the market with interchangeable artwork, titles, characters and synopses, and this book is no exception. However, I found it much more compelling than most and the subject matter is one that is profoundly chilling. It's quite a tough reads as it's a stark reminder that we all need a support system in place but that not everyone can be trusted to have pure objectives. Picture of Innocence is rather cleverly written and just as it says, the characters you least expect of having self-serving, ulterior motives are those who turn out to be exactly that.

At the very heart of the story is the psychological debate of nature vs nurture - what traits we are genetically predisposed to compared to those that are borne of our environment. It's a fascinating question and fed into this narrative beautifully. As the question has never really had much of a definitive answer it is pretty much a percentage play in terms of guessing which facets of our personalities are a product of our genetic material and parentage and which are a product of our environment in our formative years. This is a well written, gripping novel with a plethora of twisty surprises and a serious message with an interesting psychological viewpoint and well worth a read.

Many thanks to Avon for an ARC.
Profile Image for Justkeepreading.
1,795 reviews70 followers
April 19, 2019
Oh yes. This book ticked all the right box’s for me. It was captivating, gripping, full of fabulous twist and turns. With a stunning ending and a fantastic cast of characters. This is one to look out for next year for sure.

My name is Lydia. I’m 12 years old. I’m not an evil person, but I did something bad.

My name is Maddie. I’d never hurt my son. But can I be sure if I don’t remember?

With three children under ten, Maddie is struggling. On the outside, she’s a happy young mother, running a charity as well as a household. But inside, she’s exhausted. She knows she’s lucky to have to have a support network around her. Not just her loving husband, but her family and friends too.

But is Maddie putting her trust in the right people? Because when tragedy strikes, she is certain someone has hurt her child – and everyone is a suspect, including Maddie herself…

The women in this book are about to discover that looks can be deceiving… because anyone is capable of terrible things. Even the most innocent, even you.

This is the story of every mother's worst fear. But it's not a story you know... and nothing is what it seems.
Profile Image for Lisa.
602 reviews44 followers
April 16, 2019
Thank you Avon Books UK for a copy of Picture of Innocence for an honest review. Available April 18, 2019.
Picture of Innocence relies on the unreliable narrator a little too much for my taste. Maddie is a mother of three fighting through sleep exhaustion and worried about postpartum depression while running a charity that is failing. I have read that particular unreliable narrator a lot and it vaguely annoys me that most of her family quickly stops believing or trusting her but no one helps her get any rest. It’s a particular pet peeve of mine.
I did love the Lydia story line though and wish the bulk of the story was there rather than the other way around. There was too many “surprise” twists in Maddie’s story line and it took a while for the two to connect for me.
A good story but one that was not working for me.
Profile Image for Sophie Bristow Harris.
333 reviews48 followers
January 22, 2019
I absolutely loved “Picture of Innocence”. This book is awash with red herrings, just as I thought I knew what was happening - my thoughts were spun on their head and I was proved completely wrong!
A superbly written psychological thriller that kept me awake through the night wanting to see how it panned out. I’m now completely shattered from lack of sleep but that was made so worth it by this excellent book. I’ve recommended it to all my book friends and think I’m going to find it hard to top this one. Now I’m going to have a little nap to recover from it’s pages of thrills and excitement.
Profile Image for Clair Sharpe.
518 reviews40 followers
May 5, 2019
Maddie has 3 children, two of them under 3 and is struggling. On the outside she appears to be coping running a horse sanctuary as well as being a good mum and wife to Lucas. But she is exhausted - baby Noah suffers from colic and doesn't sleep and she is also suffering with frightening memory losses.
But when baby Noah is found dead in his cot, she is soon under suspicion for his death. While she is sure she didn't do anything wrong, it isn't long before she starts to suspect the people around her of hurting her baby and before long she feels as if she is loosing her mind...
As well as Maddie's story, we delve back into the past to hear from Lydia. Poor Lydia is neglected and terribly abused by both her mum and her male friends. At the age of just 12 she does something truly terrible...
My goodness, this was a disturbing yet exciting read. I had so much sympathy with poor Maddie who not only lost her child but also feels like she is going insane. To go through something so terrible and not be able to trust the people around you must be awful. I can clearly remember that exhausted feeling that comes with having very young children and it is not an easy time.
And poor Lydia - I have no idea how anyone can treat their child in this way but I know it does happen.
It was obvious the two stories were going to come together at some point and I thought I was very clever and had guessed the connection quite early on but I was wrong! I did guess another twist though but it didn't lessen the enjoyment of the book.
Tess Stimson is a skilled writer. The novel was fast paced, so much so that I picked it up at every opportunity. There is no doubt there are some difficult themes in here, but this is a chilling read and I look forward to seeing what Stimson does next.
Profile Image for Trisha.
4,615 reviews160 followers
July 9, 2021
"She is already the keeper of so many secrets. One more won't make any difference."

This was a tough read as I never felt fully pulled in. I rode with Maddie's story but as everything spiraled out of control, I just couldn't get interested. I found Lydia's story interesting but a bit distracting at points - but it's definitely an intricate part of the plot and is necessary.....I just didn't love how it was interjected.

I did like the ultimate twist and liked how it all played out. It's an interesting story and one that I struggled to weigh morally. It'd be an interesting book club pick to hash out. I just with I'd enjoyed it a little more.

A huge thank you to the author and publisher for providing an e-ARC via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion regarding the book.
Profile Image for Darren.
1,677 reviews29 followers
January 24, 2019
I got this as a e book from Net Galley. I enjoyed reading it. It had a good story to it. I liked the variety of characters in it. It is my first book read by this author. I hope to read more books by this author.
Profile Image for January Gray.
727 reviews14 followers
July 25, 2019
This was a decent read, but not my favorite. It was a little too weird for my taste. I really just couldn't wrap my head around the concept of it. Good idea, just maybe not well rounded out enough for me.
Profile Image for Vanessa.
1,868 reviews8 followers
April 24, 2019
I just loved this book "Picture of Innocence" by T J Stimson. However, at the beginning I thought I had read this book or something similar before and had the same feeling when I was further within the book. But, it did not stop me reading it.

My name is Lydia. I’m 12 years old. I’m not an evil person, but I did something bad.

What did Lydia do?

Who is she?

I was hooked just from this and wanted to find out more about Lydia.

Maddie and Lucas are married. They have 3 small children Emily is 9, son Jacob is 2 and newborn Noah is 9 weeks old.
Maddie is struggling and exhausted with no sleep with post natal depression and memory lapses. Noah has colic and seems to be awake and crying more than he's resting.
Maddie wakes up one morning, after having her first good nights sleep in a long time and especially as her Husband was away for the night with his work. Maddie makes a crushing discovery when she checks on their 2 month old child called Noah and finds him dead in his cot. Her world comes crashing all around her. Mothers worst nightmare!!!
Maddie would never hurt her own child and the Police have to be called. Maddie is the Police's number ones suspect!

What has Lydia and Maddie got in common?

You will need to read Picture of Innocence to find out......You will be shocked!!!

This book is Full of Twists and Turns and will have you saying WoW.........didn't see that coming!!!

Thank you to NetGalley for this advanced reading copy and for allowing my read this in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Pat Simpson.
666 reviews6 followers
May 12, 2019
This is a really dark and compelling read. The book has two main characters and their two stories. There is Maddie, a mother with husband Lucas and three young children but she is struggling with post natal depression and blackouts. When she finds her youngest child Noah dead in his cot she is the main suspect but who really was responsible? Then we are introduced to Lydia, a young girl who has been subjected to abuse and neglect, how can their stories be connected? The police investigation continues and Maddie is suspicious of Lucas and her sister in law Candace and even her mother Sarah. They are all keeping secrets and any one of them could have harmed Noah. This is quite a disturbing book to read with a distressing storyline, but a book that you will not be able to put down. So many twists and turns with a fantastic ending. Don’t miss reading this book!
Profile Image for Philomena Callan Cheekypee.
3,889 reviews395 followers
April 28, 2019
I read this a few weeks ago and I still haven’t got the words for the review but I better write something lol don’t get me wrong- this is a great read but it’s a heavy read.
I didn’t speed through this like I normally do. That is in no way a negative- it’s one of those books that had me thinking.

The author did a great job of writing such a compelling and interesting read. The characters are so different they will bring all sorts of emotions out of the readers.

Picture of Innocence is a fabulous read that gripped my attention from start to finish. I’m really looking forward to reading more from this author in the future.
9,479 reviews84 followers
April 10, 2019
No spoilers! That makes this hard to review but darn it, it's worth the read. Maddie's got a lot- probably too much- on her plate. She's also experiencing blackouts. Hmm. When tragedy strikes, things come unglued. Who is Lydia? Her tale twists and turns around Maddie's and how these two come together might surprise you. Even if it doesn't, you'll find yourself totally immersed in the story. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. Well written and with some cool plot twists, this is a very good read- perfect for travel.
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