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The Playground

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  3,557 ratings  ·  469 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.

There’s Eve
Paperback, 384 pages
Published December 30th 2019 by William Morrow Paperbacks
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Myrna Gottlieb The taller man is Eric, Eve's husband. The other man is Martin, another significant man in Eve's life. But her reaction when she saw them approaching …moreThe taller man is Eric, Eve's husband. The other man is Martin, another significant man in Eve's life. But her reaction when she saw them approaching was - two more for dinner; she'd need to make more stuffing. Eve seems content now with her fulfilling new life, built on sisterhood with her girlfriends and all their children. (less)
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Average rating 3.55  · 
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 ·  3,557 ratings  ·  469 reviews

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Meredith ( on Semi-Hiatus until February)
2.5 stars

The Playground is part drama, part mystery, and part psychological thriller about 3 couples so caught up in the drama of their relationships that they become blind to the extremely dangerous games their children are playing. When a tragedy occurs, their lives implode.

Melissa and Paul, Eve and Eric, and Grace and Martin, who come from varying social classes, are brought together through their young children’s play/education group. The children quickly bond, while the adults participate
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
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
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 boo
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 *too
Cortney LaScola - The Bookworm Myrtle Beach
3.5 stars rounded up

I really enjoy Jane Shemilt's writing... The Playground was a good story, but not really the suspense I was expecting. I'm not sure if the twist was supposed to be a twist, but I knew how it was going to end from the start.

Still really enjoyed it! Looking forward to reading what she comes up with next.
Diana Cosmin
Jan 14, 2020 rated it did not like it
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.
Felice Laverne
Aug 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. I figured out most of the twists from the start, and I did some skimming to get past the overwrought descriptions that tried to be thoughtfully literary, but overall it was a decent read with plenty of moments I didn't expect. ...more
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
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
Melissa Borsey
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.
Three families’ lives become increasingly intertwined when they meet during tutoring sessions for their children. Throughout the summer and into the fall, the adults become more and more preoccupied with each other, leaving the kids to amuse themselves. But what exactly are the kids up to?

This was a somewhat dark and twisted story that was the quick read that I needed after a couple of heavier reads. I’d figured out the mystery early on, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment as I watched the
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 r ...more
Excellent suspense story of what happens when a couple grows apart and become so wrapped up in their separate, secret lives, that their children go missing right under their noses, because neither husband or wife is paying attention to what’s really going on. Highly recommended, especially for fans of Liane Moriarty.
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 adj
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
I went into this book feeling very excited. The blurb had me expecting something with twists, turns, some heat, some intrigue. What I got, though, was a lot less exciting.

I don't know if there are too many people with too many children (it did get a little tiresome trying to keep track of whose kid was whose, largely because these kids all seemed like the same person, except for one or two) or if the plot wound up being not all that interesting, but this book didn't click with me the way I'd hop
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Meagan Houle
Jun 13, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christine Moore
Nov 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: edelweiss
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. ...more
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pretty decent book. The author does a great job of setting the mood. I could minus a star because most of the plot was predictable but I'm feeling generous :) ...more
Mar 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is intense. I have to say there is A LOT of trigger warnings.. rape, domestic abuse, pedophilia, kidnapping just to name a few. So if you are sensitive to those topics please read with caution. Very entertaining read and definitely brings up the question of how well do you really know the people you surround yourself with? If you are new to the psychological thriller genre then this will be full of surprises and twists and turns. I guessed (for the most part) how this would play out bu ...more
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a page turner. All is not what it appears to be on the playground! Nothing like a little sex, deception and psychopathology to make childhood and adulthood this book for what it is—fun!
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 ru
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 despera
Michael F.S.W. Morrison
Very confusing, and not well written.
Among other flaws, author Shemilt does not know how to use commas.
I have re-read the ending twice and I still don't know what happened.
Maybe someone will enlighten me.
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
Rachael Cavinder
Feb 06, 2021 rated it liked it
A suspenseful, yet disturbing novel.
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 childr
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 t
Melissa (LifeFullyBooked)
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
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Goodreads Librari...: Book description is for another title 3 28 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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