The Perfect Girl: A Novel

The Perfect Girl: A Novel

3.8 5
by Gilly Macmillan
     
 

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The New York Times bestselling author of What She Knew returns with an electrifying new novel about how the past will always find us...

"Literary suspense at its finest.”—Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Baby

“A wonderfully addictive book with virtuoso plotting and characters -

Overview

The New York Times bestselling author of What She Knew returns with an electrifying new novel about how the past will always find us...

"Literary suspense at its finest.”—Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Baby

“A wonderfully addictive book with virtuoso plotting and characters - for anyone who loved Girl on the Train, it’s a must read.”
   — Rosamund Lupton

Zoe Maisey is a seventeen-year-old musical prodigy with a genius IQ. Three years ago, she was involved in a tragic incident that left three classmates dead. She served her time, and now her mother, Maria, is resolved to keep that devastating fact tucked far away from their new beginning, hiding the past even from her new husband and demanding Zoe do the same. 

Tonight Zoe is giving a recital that Maria has been planning for months. It needs to be the performance of her life. But instead, by the end of the evening, Maria is dead.

In the aftermath, everyone—police, family, Zoe’s former solicitor, and Zoe herself—tries to piece together what happened. But as Zoe knows all too well, the truth is rarely straightforward, and the closer we are to someone, the less we may see.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 07/18/2016
Piano prodigy Zoe Maisey, the 17-year-old heroine of this cunningly plotted psychological thriller from Thriller Award–finalist Macmillan (What She Knew), and her devoted mother, Maria, have against all odds started a promising second act in Bristol, England, after a night in Devon three years earlier that shattered Zoe’s life—and snuffed out those of a trio of other teens. Maria has married wealthy entrepreneur Chris Kennedy, and Zoe now has a baby half sister, Grace. All is well until a piano recital brings the past roaring back with devastating consequences. Unfortunately, Zoe and Maria aren’t the only ones with secrets, and what they don’t know about Chris and his brooding teenage son, Lucas, just might prove their undoing. As the suspenseful, serpentine tale unreels from the alternating perspectives of several key players, readers will be rooting for the resilient, resourceful Zoe all the way to the perfectly executed final twists. Agent: Nelle Andrew, Peters, Fraser and Dunlop (U.K.). (Sept.)
Library Journal
04/01/2016
A skeleton found bound in concrete at a recently decommissioned nuclear power plant solves a 40-year-old missing persons case while opening up a murder investigation—and another, as someone linked to the case is shot dead after speaking to Joe Gunther, head of the Vermont Bureau of Investigation. Then a young police officer is kidnapped, and you've got to wonder just how bad the bad guys here really are. New York mafiosi, maybe? From the New York Times best-selling author of The Company She Kept; with a New England tour.
Mary Kubica
“With tightly drawn characters, a fascinating storyline and absolutely exquisite narration, THE PERFECT GIRL is sure to keep readers up all night. Gilly Macmillan proves once again to be a master of the written word and is quickly becoming one of my go-to authors. Literary suspense at its finest.”
Kate White
“I DEVOURED The Perfect Girl. An incredible page turner with awesome characters and suspense. Bravo.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062476760
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/06/2016
Pages:
464
Sales rank:
23,220
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

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Meet the Author

Gilly Macmillan is the Edgar Nominated and New York Times bestselling author of What She Knew. She grew up in Swindon, Wiltshire and lived in Northern California in her late teens. She worked at The Burlington Magazine and the Hayward Gallery before starting a family. Since then she's worked as a part-time lecturer in photography, and now writes full-time. She resides in Bristol, England.

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The Perfect Girl: A Novel 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
cloggiedownunder 20 days ago
“Adults like to put a name on everything you feel, as if a name can neutralise it. They’re wrong, though. Some things settle under your skin and don’t ever go away, no matter what you call them” The Perfect Girl, also titled much more evocatively, Butterfly in the Dark, is the second novel by British author, Gilly Macmillan. At fourteen years of age, Zoe Guerin, a precociously talented Devon girl, had a promising career as a concert pianist ahead of her. Then she was found guilty of causing an accident that took three teenagers’ lives. At seventeen, now called Zoe Maisey, she has served her sentence in a Secure Unit, and her mother Maria has tried to give them both what Zoe recognises as a Second Chance at Life. But her attempt to restart her career in Bristol is dramatically aborted due to an incident that vividly brings back that tragic event and its aftermath. And mere hours later, Maria Maisey is dead. Macmillan employs three main narrators (Zoe, her aunt Tessa and her solicitor, Sam) to tell the story, adding another two in later chapters. The bulk of the story covers a period of less than twenty-four hours, but there are flashbacks that detail earlier occurrences. Zoe’s memories of her trial, her interactions with her keyworker at the Secure Unit, and a film script written by her step-brother, Lucas, serve to fill in some of the back story and establish Zoe’s state of mind. Both Sam’s and Tessa’s more mature perspectives establish the nature of the main characters and their interactions. Macmillan’s portrayal of a brilliant teenager and the effects of the accident on her life, and the lives of those close to her, is convincing. Her descriptive prose is evocative: ‘Lucas … just moved quietly around the different parts of the house and when he settled down anywhere, it reminded me of a dark shadow cast over a patch of white sand”. While the cover’s enticer “Nobody knows the truth but her” is quite misleading, this is a gripping tale. All the characters have secrets and several could have motives for murder. Macmillan skilfully builds her story, gradually feeding in clues and red herrings to produce a page-turner that will keep the reader guessing until the truth is revealed. Recommended!
Twink 6 days ago
Gilly MacMillan's first novel, What She Knew, was an Edgar nominated, New York Times Bestseller. Her second novel, The Perfect Girl, is newly released. Seventeen year old Zoe is a brilliant piano virtuoso. Her mother Maria has nurtured her career from the very beginning. An accident three years ago ended with one of Zoe's friends dead. But, she's served her time, she and her mother have moved and they have a new family unit. But while giving a concert in their new hometown, a man bursts in ranting and disrupts the event. And six hours later, Maria is dead...... Who killed Maria is the question that needs answering by the end of the book. And there are a few obvious choices. But it is the exploration of the characters, their lives, their thoughts and their reasoning that make The Perfect Girl a 'literary suspense' novel. There are eight main characters in The Perfect Girl, but only four of them are given a voice with their own chapters. I was surprised at those that were - Tessa and Richard, Zoe's aunt and uncle and Sam, Zoe's previous solicitor. A fifth, Lucas - Zoe's new stepbrother, we come to know through his film script. Zoe is driven to be perfect - in her piano playing and in her behavior. After all, this is her Second Chance with her new Second Chance family in their new Second Chance home. It's heartbreaking to read Zoe's chapters, as we learn of her past and the events that lead to that fateful night. But I found her a hard character to actually like. Maria is also driven as well to make everything 'perfect'. Maria is not given a voice and we only learn about her from others - notably her sister Tessa (who seems to be the most reasonable character) Chris, Maria's new husband, also only becomes known through his actions and dialogue described by others. (But he's a real piece of work) It was Uncle Richard that I was drawn to the most, despite his spectacular lack of perfection. I understand Sam's inclusion in the book, but felt he was quite removed from the 'main event'. These are all fractured people with fractured lives and secrets, some holding it together better than others. It was hard to really like any of them, but as a 'removed' observer, I was caught up in their turmoil. The final whodunit isn't the ending I had predicted, but seems, well, just perfect.
SheTreadsSoftly 12 days ago
The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan is a highly recommended psychological thriller. Zoe Maisey is a 17 year old musical prodigy who was involved in a car accident when she was 14 and living in Devon. She was driving the car that crashed, resulting in the death of three of her classmates. For her actions, Zoe served nine months in a rehabilitation facility. Her parents' marriage ended, so when Zoe was released, her mother Maria moved them to Bristol to start a new life. Maria remarries and she and Zoe have kept all the details from their past a secret from Maria's new, wealthy husband, Chris Kennedy. Now Zoe has a baby half-sister, Grace, and a step brother, Lucas in this "second chance family." Lucas also plays the piano, so Maria has planned and publicized a public performance for the two. This is meant to signal the new start her life and set her life on the path her mother has chosen. During the opening number, however, the father of one of the accident victims interrupts the performance, yelling that it is a travesty and a disgrace for Zoe to be there. In a panic, she runs off the stage and she and Maria head home, leaving Lucas to continue his portion of the event with his father, Chris. Zoe wants her mother to tell her how they are going to explain the interruption of the concert to Chris? Six hours later, Maria is dead and there are even more unanswered questions. Zoe has learned plenty of lessons from her past. Will any of them help her now? The Perfect Girl is a very compelling novel. The plot kept me glued to the pages and held my attention to the end. All of the characters are well developed and clearly defined. Part of the explanation for this is that the narrative is told through several different characters and from their perspective. The narrators, who tell the story and the backstory, include Zoe, Lucas, Tessa (Zoe's aunt), Sam (Zoe's attorney from her earlier case), and Richard (Tessa's husband). The multiple viewpoints is used very effectively here; the unfolding stories explain background and slowly expound on the facts and clarify what really happened in the past and the present. The truth is rarely clear and everyone has secrets in this family drama. It appears that Chris and Lucas were also keeping secrets from Maria and Zoe. All the members of this "second chance family" have been walking on tightrope since the beginning - and now it is all unraveling. I did question two things about the plot. First, I questioned the choice to have the character of Sam, the attorney, as a narrator. While he told a part of the story, his presence never felt natural to me, and I questioned his other reason for being part of the story. I guess I would have looked for another way to tell that part of Zoe's background. At the beginning I also questioned why Zoe was given the car accident backstory. I accepted the thought processes that lead to it, but still thought it could have been accomplished in a slightly different way with the same results. All in all, though, this was a great novel that I thoroughly enjoyed why overlooking my few questions. 4.5 stars Disclosure: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from HarperCollins and TLC for review purposes. http://tlcbooktours.com/2016/08/gilly-macmillan-author-of-the-perfect-girl-on-tour-september-2016/
Kendra-ReadsandTreats 16 days ago
I am not on a roll lately. I keep picking books that are falling flat. I was so excited for this one too. Ugh! Here it is again, another book that is compared to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. Come on, people! If it is not as good, don't compare it to those! :-( Anyway, this was the first book I've read by Gilly Macmillan. I'm not sure if it should be the last, or if I should give the other one a try. Of course, this was a 'whodunit' type of book. However, I couldn't help but to feel blah throughout the whole thing. It took me a while to get into it. Some of that was because there were too many perspectives. I've voiced my opinion on this before, so I won't here. But... I truly feel that the various perspectives only hurt this book. I think 3 would have been fine, but it might have been pushing that line. Moving on. I did enjoy Gilly's writing, her style, her voice. It was interesting, but to me, it wasn't anything to write home about. (Which is ironic since I am writing this review... Haha). This book was a miss for me. None of the characters were relate-able, and they weren't as complex as I had hoped. They were developed though, so it's not like they were one-dimensional. It is clear that Gilly is a skilled writer.
bookchickdi 16 days ago
Author Gilly Macmillan follows up her 2015 gripping debut novel What She Knew, about a mom whose eight-year-old son vanishes, with another tense and topical suspense thriller, The Perfect Girl. The Perfect Girl opens with 17-year-old Zoe Maisey and her stepbrother Lucas ready to perform a piano recital. Zoe's mom Maria and Lucas' dad Chris sit proudly in the front row, ready to hear their talented children play. Zoe then tells us that six hours later her mother will be dead. Now that the author has your attention, we shift narrators to Sam, a solicitor whom we find is having an affair with Zoe's Aunt Tessa. Sam and Tessa met a few years prior, when Sam was Zoe's lawyer. When Zoe was 14 years-old, she was involved in a car accident that took the lives of three of her classmates, and Sam relates that part of the story to us. We also get Tessa's point of view. Tessa loves her niece Zoe and sister Maria fiercely. She is having trouble in her marriage; she and her husband have been trying for years to conceive a child, and her husband has slid into alcoholism and depression. The timeline shifts back and forth, but it is never confusing. The title refers to not only Zoe- who is trying her best to be the perfect girl her mother wants, but to Tessa, who has always been the perfect girl in her family, and Maria, a former wild child who, after Zoe's accident, has worked hard to be the perfect wife to Chris. But what is the cost of trying for perfection? When Zoe was fourteen, she went to a party, had what she thought was one drink, hoping to get the attention of Jack, the guy every girl wanted. She thought she was using good judgement, but in trying to impress Jack a terrible tragedy occurs. Maria changed her life when she married Chris. Her marriage to Zoe's husband broke up after Zoe's accident, and Maria rebuilt her life with Chris and his son Lucas. She designed the perfect life for her husband- they had the perfect house, she had a beautiful kitchen where she created wonderful meals for her husband. The cost of attempting perfection, especially for women, can be too much to pay. So how did Maria end up dead? That is the ultimate mystery here, and you'll fly through the pages to find out the answer. Reading The Perfect Girl put me in mind of HBO's series, The Night Of. A seemingly good kid makes a few bad decisions that leads to more trouble. There's also a lawyer's point of view, as in the HBO series. Fans of The Night Of will want to follow-up with The Perfect Girl.