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Most people’s lives are never quite what they seem!
This Perfect World
by Suzanne Bugler
Review

THIS PERFECT WORLD

Cover Image Of The Book 'This Perfect World' By Author Suzanne BuglerLaura Hamley is the woman who has everything: a loving and successful husband, two beautiful children, an expensive home and a set of equally fortunate friends.

But Laura’s perfect world is suddenly threatened when she receives an unwelcome phone call from Mrs Partridge, mother of Heddy – the girl Laura and her friends bullied mercilessly at school. Heddy has been hospitalized following a mental breakdown, and Mrs Partridge wants Laura’s help to get her released.

As Laura reluctantly gets drawn back into the past, she is forced to face the terrible consequences of her cruelty. But, as her secrets are revealed, so too is another even more devastating truth, and the perfect world Laura has so carefully constructed for herself begins to fall apart.

SUZANNE BUGLER

Image of author Suzanne BuglerSuzanne Bugler lives near Kingston in South West London with her husband and children.

She has been writing bits and peices for a long time, in between raising her family.

Follow Suzanne on Twitter

Check out more of Suzanne’s books here

MY THOUGHTS

Cover Image Of The Book 'This Perfect World' By Author Suzanne BuglerThis book worried me, before I even opened the first page, as having been bullied many times during my youth and even beyond, I knew it was not going to be a comfortable read. As it was, I found myself examining my own behaviour and asking the question, “Have I ever been the perpetrator of bullying, rather than the victim?” The answers were not always the ones I wanted to hear and were certainly not a palatable thought.

The characters, none of whom were particularly likeable, are well formed, complex and focused, standing up well to close inspection, in this emotionally draining story.

The central group of characters, in Laura’s high flying world, operate a filtering system for would be members, both for themselves and their children, excluding those who are ‘not the right sort’. Behaviour which they see as totally acceptable, only serves to make them appear shallow and insubstantial and is to me, a reflection of their intrinsic values, which are self-centred, egocentric and selfish, existing only to jostle for position as top dog within the group. This group of course, includes Laura, for whom this behaviour is only an extension of her childhood days, although she just doesn’t seem to comprehend that bullying comes in many different guises and her participation in this selection exercise is only an extension to the physical and psychological bullying of her youth.

The long term consequences of cruelty, to both the victim and the perpetrator, only start to become apparent to Laura, when her nemesis from childhood days, Heddy, reappears in her life in dramatic and compelling style, making you almost afraid to keep reading, but knowing that Laura has to confront her actions head-on, as she moves towards a form of redemption.

In Heddy, Suzanne has crafted a complex and sad character, who spent her youth trying to emulate and befriend Laura, receiving only ridicule and hurt in return. Even now, when she has been thrust back into the path of her torturer, she is crying out in vain to gain acceptance for who and what she is, but is unable to overcome the self-loathing that has been instilled in her by the treatment she received so long ago, at Laura’s hand.

Heddy’s mother, Mrs. Partridge plays mind games of her own with Laura, as she attempts to force the two women together, into the friendship she thinks they should have. Switching subtly between role of concerned mother who wants her daughter to have friends and a social life, to becoming Laura’s accuser and voice of her conscience as she lays the blame firmly at Laura’s door, for Heddy’s current plight. Suzanne has done an excellent job with this ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ character, on the surface meek and desperate, whilst in truth being creepily manipulative.

There are powerful and vivid observational scenes, as the cracks in Laura’s world become chasms, with the consequences of her actions being dramatic and permanent. The relationship with her husband deteriorates drastically, when Laura strips away the veneer of their marriage, to expose his true feelings, where status and appearances are everything he needs to climb higher up the social ladder, at the expense of a lasting and loving relationship with his wife and children.

Laura harks back to childhood days and begins to examine her relationship with her parents, realising that all is, and never was, quite what it seems. She rushes in to confront them, unaware that her world is about to come crashing down around her again, when the true extent of their deception is revealed, leaving her broken, ashamed, racked with guilt, and most importantly, for the first time ever …. Alone and unwanted!!!

This is a compelling and beguiling tale, intertwining past and present, but with the basic premise that hurt engenders hurt, becoming an ever-increasing vicious circle, that is only to be broken in a dramatic and life changing way.

It also closely examines guilt and the fronts we put up in life to fit in and to protect ourselves.

This is one of those books which would be ideal for a book club debate and discussion, as there are so many facets to the story line and characters, which can be interpreted in a myriad of different ways by the individual reader.

Written by
Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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8 comments
  • This sounds like one that might be quite disconcerting, for many of us! I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to rid the world of bullying, any more than we can other equally distasteful practices in society.

    It sounds like an interesting, if not emotionally draining, story. It may have to go on my wishlist. Good review, Yvonne.

    • Hi Kelly,

      Because this one affected me quite personally, I think I probably found it more harrowing and consuming than other readers might. But leaving the emotion aside, I still think that this would make a great choice for a book club discussion, as the characters are so complex and divisive.

      Unfortunately it looks as though this author has laid down her pens, as her last book was published in 2013. I will however leave you a link to check out some of the premises and you will see how she touched on some very controversial topics in everything she wrote. I am definitely going to be keeping a look out for her other books.

      https://www.fantasticfiction.com/b/suzanne-bugler/

      It seems that the older I get, the more I notice many of the distasteful practices in society, that you mention. Unfortunately, I think that these are going to become more of the norm and way of life, so changing them now really isn’t going to happen, at least not by us. It is going to need a generational shift to bring about the fundamental change in society to make it half way decent again.

      Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words about the review. I hope that all is well with you 🙂

      • I checked at Amazon earlier, and it’s still not available for us other than as a pricy third-party offering.

        Sadly, the more history I read, the more it reminds me that there have always been distasteful practices in society, many far worse than what we see today. In fact, I’d wager things as a whole now are quite civilized in comparison! (or at least in the Western world) Still… there’s always room for improvement.

        • I guess we are back to the generational shift scenario again, the way things have always evolved I suppose.

          I am sure that if one set of distasteful practices are eradicated, then another will come along behind them, it’s a bit of a vicious circle really!!

          It’s a real shame that the book is so expensive in paperback for you, it is dirt cheap on Amazon UK. The Kindle download at just over $6 USD, is about the same price as over here.

          🙂 xx

          • Looking again today, it’s telling me it’s not available in our Kindle store… only as audio and third-party “real” books.

            Moot point, really, as I don’t need more new books! I have a backlog in my TBR as it is!

            • So much for a ‘World Wide’ Amazon!!

              Especially when it’s a download, no shipping or human intervention required!!

              🙂

  • Hi Yvonne, I am glad you enjoyed this one and I can see how it would be an emotionally draining read. It sounds very good though.
    I enjoyed reading your well thought out review, this seems like a good read for a book club. It’s very true the long term effects bullying has, especially when children are bullied, they are at a critical time in their lives when they need acceptance and support, not ridicule. Thanks for putting this on my radar.

    • Hi Naida,

      No matter whether or not someone has been personally affected by any issues they read in this storyline, this book would be great for a group discussion, as the author has done a fantastic job of opening up the issues for individual interpretation, as well as developing a cast of characters who are collectively broken and not very likeable.

      From my own personal perspective, bullying at school some 40+ years ago, took on a completely different guise to that of the predominantly online cyber hate which is prevalent in today’s society.

      Both forms of bullying are of course hateful in their own way, however back in my youth, harassment and abuse was always more visible, out in the open and dealt with swiftly by adults in a community. Today though, with almost everything being online, abuse is secretive, manipulative and insidious and I think that change will only come about by a generational shift, if that is at all possible!

      It was great that you took the time to visit and comment, I always appreciate your support 🙂

Written by Yvonne

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