Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Understudy” as Want to Read:
The Understudy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Understudy

3.27  ·  Rating details ·  1,143 ratings  ·  191 reviews
How far would you go to protect your daughter?

Carolyn, Bronnie, Elise, and Kendall are bound together by one thing—their four daughters are best friends at the highly competitive Orla Flynn Academy for the Performing Arts. Last year the foursome exploded because of brutal bullying between the girls, but they've since forgiven each other. The mothers, however, haven’t been
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published October 3rd 2019 by Hodder & Stoughton (first published August 22nd 2019)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Understudy, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Understudy

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,143 ratings  ·  191 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Understudy
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
I really enjoy B.A. Paris and Clare Mackintosh books and had high hopes for this book.
The story is about a group of teenage girls who are at drama school and their mothers who will do anything for their daughters.
I just could not get into this story at all. I could not relate to the characters who were all very unpleasant and the bad language also put me off this story.
Thank you to NetGalley Hodder & Stoughton and for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
Louise Wilson
Sep 26, 2019 rated it liked it
This story centres around the mothers of four teenage girls who all attend a performing arts school. Jess, Ruby, Bel and Sadie attend the Orla Flynn Academy. They are studying musical theatre and form a close friendship group. The mothers, Carolyn, Kendall, Bronnie and Elsie are aslo friends until an incident where bullying occurred the previous year. The headmaster suggests that they I produce a new girl into the group. The girls make Imogen welcome but soon cracks appear.

The story is told from
Sep 16, 2019 rated it liked it

So, The Understudy, a book with an amazing pedigree of 4 top of their game writers although I must confess to only reading Paris and Mackintosh previously, both of which I have read everything they have published and mainly enjoyed
The book is split into long chapters and ( I only realised at Chapter 4 😎 ) whichever author has written that chapter it is indicated at the start, they then all come together to write the end chapter/finale
Does this work? For me, yes, it did, I did notice difference
Liz Barnsley
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed The Understudy, it was wildly entertaining and twistier than a bag full of pretzels on a rollercoaster.

It is peppered with highly dislikeable yet extraordinarily engaging character's, set within a highly competitive environment, where each passing chapter sends another curveball your way.

I loved the sense of baton passing as each of these brilliant authors add their own peculiar talents to the mix and this was one of those books where I often spoke out loud to it as one or
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was brilliant. I liked that it was split up so we know Carolyn, Bronnie, Elise and Kendall’s side of the story. None of the women were likeable and they were all hiding secrets. I definitely think this book would be one you would absolutely love or absolutely loathe. I thought it was really good and so well written. All the authors worked extremely well together and came out with a very thrilling book. There was always lots of dramas and secrets which make you want to find ou ...more
With thanks to Netgalley and Hodder and Staughton for this ARC in exchange for and honest review.

The Understudy is about a four friends and wannabe actresses Jess, Ruby, Annabelle and Sadie. The girls attend the Orla Flynn Academy for Performing Arts.

Ruby had moved to the UK from America the year before and quickly made friends with the three girls. Her mother Kendall was lonely and became friends with the mums, Carolyn, Elise and Bronnie.

Ruby became jealous of Jess because she was more talente
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nook
The mothers are forced to come together when their daughters are being targeted but they have to find out if the newest member to their drama school is the killer, possessed perhaps or just a wicked little girl that wants to be a star.

I thought that considering it was written by multiple author (B. A. Paris being my favorite and the reason I wanted to read it) they flowed rather easily. If i didnt know that it was multiple authors I would not have known they just blended the story together so n
Feb 09, 2020 rated it did not like it
How does this happen! A group of four successful and popular authors collaborate only to produce a piece of utterly awful writing.

Four women. who on the surface are friends, each have a daughter at the well-respected and highly competitive
Orla Flynn Academy for the Performing Arts. All four girls are, on the surface, close friends. Unfortunately one of them - Ruby - was particularly horrible to Jess, and now, whenever anything nasty happens the finger of suspicion is pointed in her direction.
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book reviews on

The Understudy is an entertaining, twisty story set in the world of teenage drama school students and their pushy parents. There’s plenty of cattiness within its pages, as we see things through the eyes of four different but often just as unlikable parents. You love to hate them, and their bratty children, as the novel continues, and more secrets come to the surface.

The book is quite unique in that it’s split into sections, which each author writes, and I loved
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Both Sophie Hannah and Clare Mackintosh are must-read authors for me; I’ve read a couple of books by B.A. Paris, but I’m not familiar with Holly Brown. A book co-written by four people sounded an intriguing proposition, and it actually works pretty seamlessly. It helps that it’s told mainly through the voices of four women - Elise, Bronnie, Kendall and Carolyn - mothers of girls who attend a stage school, the Orla Flynn Academy. When a weird new girl, Imogen, arrives at the school, things get ev ...more
Karen Barber
On paper this sounds like an idea that might work...four very different writers (all very good at what they do) each take a section of story and work it into a whole novel.
Our story focuses on a group of girls at the Orla Flynn Academy, a stage school where there are some definite divas...and not just among the students. A fairly tight-knit group of four friends. We’re given some backstory about one of them bullying another last year, but things are better. At least, until odd things start to ha
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book reminded me of a thriller fiction version of Dance Moms due to the bitchiness of the mums. The plot was okay, not the greatest plot ever written. It got a bit boring at times as I felt it dragged towards the end. Rather predictable too.
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another thank you to Serial Box for my eARC of "The Understudy!"

I was so excited to see that B.A. Paris was going to be one of the authors for this project as I am already a fan of her work. All of the authors who contributed to this work flow together beautifully; their writing styles are all unique without disrupting the rhythm of the story, as it is told in (and to be released in) "episodes" rather than chapters.

As for the story, I was on the edge of my seat with every chapter! Four mothers
Lynn Brown
Sep 17, 2019 rated it liked it
I was intrigued by the multiple authorship of this book. I have read books by B A Paris and that really drew me in and the knowledge that the other authors are also well regarded.

Four mothers and their daughters - eight characters first off to keep track on and I couldn't. Which daughter was with which Mother I kept trying to recall as I read on. I would have thought that the different authors would have each had a voice but they for me just didn't.

The four girls are all budding stars, friends
Jodie (whatjodiereads)
Unfortunately I didn’t love this one as much as I thought I would. Individually all of these authors are great, but I didn’t enjoy the book that they all wrote together. B A Paris, Clare Mackintosh, Holly Brown and Sophie Hannah all write fantastic books, but I found this one very average. I was expecting twists and suspense, and unfortunately didn’t get that. I did like the storyline and the characters, but I feel like there could have been more action. I loved the different POVs throughout the ...more
Melanie Austin
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am a huge fan of Clare Mackintosh and B. A. Paris and so when I found out they were working on a project together, I could not wait to read it. I have never had the pleasure of reading any of Sophie Hannah’s or Holly Brown’s books until now, but after reading this, I will definitely be buying. I was extremely excited to be offered a ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review and I was not disappointed with the content.

The storyline is extremely gripping from the beginning, being based o
May 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: ebook
I received an ARC of this novel from SerialBox.

The story of four girls at a performing arts school and (more particularly) their mothers, as Ruby, having bullied Jess the previous year, seems to be the victim of vicious pranks this year. Ruby has been tentatively taken back into the foursome, and then a new girl, Imogen, upsets the status quo.

I found this to be well-written and I had no difficulty in keeping going to the end, but it was bit exhausting in an all-girls school, lots of angst, bitch
My thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘The Understudy’ written by Sophie Hannah, Clare Mackintosh; B A Paris; and Holly Brown in exchange for an honest review.

This intriguing novel is centred on the exclusive and highly competitive Orla Flynn Academy for the Performing Arts in London. Mothers Carolyn, Bronnie, Elsie, and Kendall are bound together by their four daughters, who are students at the Academy as well as best friends.

At the opening we learn that there had been p
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wondered how a collaborative effort between four successful writers could work. Would there be distinct edges, jerkiness, or gaps in the story?

I soon forgot I had these questions after beginning the book. Unless the chapters were marked with an author’s name, I couldn’t tell the difference. It seemed as if one person had penned the entirety.

This was a fun read. Four mothers; each with their unique parenting style, jockey for position regarding their daughter’s success in a performing arts scho
Ruth Parker
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
How can a book written by some of the best thriller authors out there be so... meh? So forgettable? So predictable? So uninteresting? Too many cooks, I guess...
Ok I’m being harsh. This book wasn’t uninteresting. But it was a struggle to get through. I almost put it down with the intention of never picking it back up again multiple times. But I’m obsessed with school type thrillers, I love Ballet and the whole idea of children and adults being as awful as each other is clever and relevant. But I
Jul 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-english

A very well done mystery (3,5 stars) in which a lot of events take place and a great number of red herrings constantly keep you guessing until the culprit's identity is revealed. This latter shocked me to the point that I didn't want to put the book down, eager to know what would happen next.
The ending, unfortunately, was a bit dull and gave me no satisfaction. On second thought, neither the characters - four selfish mothers and their spineless daughters - wer
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This psycological thriller is a collaberation project by B.A. Paris, Clare Mackintosh, Sophie Hannah and Holly Brown, with Hannah as the lead author. The four authors have written alternate chapters throughout the book, and the transition between them is pretty much seamless.
The story is set in a reputed academy for performing arts in London, and is told from the point of view of four very competitive mothers of more or less talented daughters. As it turns out, each of the mothers has something
Dec 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
This lineup of incredible authors know what they are doing and did not disappoint! The story kept me interested all the way through and surprised me a few times. This falls into the "rich people problems" category. I admit that I enjoy watching the rich mess up their perfect lives and cause themselves unnecessary drama and angst. This one was a little different since their bad behaviour also messes up their teen daughters which was a bit sad. I'm not wholly onboard with the ending although I did ...more
Trish at Between My Lines
This book drew me to it with it's fab mix of authors. I was intrigued to see how they would combine their writing styles and to see if the book would flow or if it would be very obvious who was writing which section. And I found it blended seamlessly, I honestly would have thought it was written by one person.

It features 4 mothers whose daughters attend a stage school. And the daughters might want to thread the boards on the stage, but it's the mothers who are all acting in their own lives. No o
Martyn Sanderson
Jun 09, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
this is EMBARRASSINGLY bad. truly one of the worst books i’ve ever read. shoddy, childish writing, terrible 1 dimensional characters and a plot that resembles an episode of a CBBC programme. i cannot believe these 4 writers came together to produce this utter garbage. do not waste your time reading this, it was a true struggle to finish.

also, 3 out of 4 of the authors are british, you’d think in a book centred around a performing arts school they’d have learned how to fucking spell THEATRE.
Carol Fellenz
Apr 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Slow start but ended great.
Dawn Gregory
Sep 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
A good book my only gripe is the really long chapters 30 pages far too long in my opinion and I did have to look up ngl in the text abbreviations as I hadn't heard of that one (not gonna lie). ...more
Gilli Barratt
Nov 01, 2019 rated it did not like it
I thought this was a confusing, disjointed, completely unbelievable piece of writing from four authors who really should have known better. The characters weren’t anywhere close to three dimensional, all unpleasant, and the fictional theatre school in which most of the action takes place sounds like an educational establishment from hell. Do such places and people really exist? Maybe in isolation, but altogether, no, I don’t think so. I missed out large chunks in order to reach the end quicker b ...more
Oct 14, 2019 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Nie wiesz wszystkiego
  • Paprocany
  • Precedens (Chyłka i Zordon, #12)
  • The Dilemma
  • Gdziekolwiek spojrzysz (Ukryta sieć, #3)
  • The Quiet Girls (Detective Carrie Flynn, #2)
  • Someone Is Lying
  • The Daughter
  • Cud, miód, Malina. Kronika rodziny Koźlaków
  • The Secrets He Kept
  • Now You See Them (Stephens & Mephisto Mystery, #5)
  • Grown Ups
  • Cymanowski chłód (Cymanowski Młyn, #2)
  • Żałobnica
  • Prosta sprawa
  • I Spy
  • The Snow Killer (DI Barton, #1)
  • What He Did (Detective Rachel Hart #2)
See similar books…
Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling writer of psychological crime fiction, published in 27 countries. In 2013, her latest novel, The Carrier, won the Crime Thriller of the Year Award at the Specsavers National Book Awards. Two of Sophie’s crime novels, The Point of Rescue and The Other Half Lives, have been adapted for television and appeared on ITV1 under the series title Case Sensiti ...more

Related Articles

  Kellye Garrett's first novel, Hollywood Homicide, was released in August 2017 and won the Agatha, Anthony, Lefty, and Independent Publisher...
199 likes · 49 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »