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The Trophy Child: A Novel by Paula Daly
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The Trophy Child: A Novel

by Paula Daly

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Well developed story but the ending was anti-climatic. It sounded like the author just wanted to finish the story. ( )
  LivelyLady | Dec 15, 2017 |
When Noel Bloom’s affair Karen lead to her becoming pregnant, he left his first wife and his daughter, Verity, and married his mistress, who had a young son, Ewan. When the story starts, their daughter, Brontë is ten years old and her parents have drifted apart and Noel is losing himself in casual affairs and his work as a GP. Unemployed, pot-smoking teenager Ewan, is now living separately from the rest of the family, in an extension above the garage, and is a huge disappointment to Karen and Verity, now living with them because Noel’s ex has advanced MS and is living in a nursing home, is failing at school. Following two recent incidents, when she physically attacked Karen and was suspected of drug-taking, the head of the expensive private school she attends insisted that she should attend counselling and undergo regular testing for drugs in order to remain at the school.
It soon becomes clear that, disappointed with all her other relationships within this increasingly dysfunctional, disconnected family, Karen has become obsessed with proving to the world that she can be a brilliant mother, that at least one of her children will excel, even though at the expense of the needs of everyone else. Poor Brontë, a sweet, good-natured child of average intelligence, is pushed to exhaustion as her mother expects her to achieve academic brilliance. Karen also fills every moment of the child’s spare time with piano and harp lessons, dance classes, extra tutoring etc., allowing her no free time in which to relax and have fun. Things reach crisis point when Brontë goes missing and although she turns up safe and well she refuses to enlarge on her story that she spent the night in a neighbour’s shed, even though it is clear to everyone that she is not being entirely truthful. However, whilst the intense search for her daughter was underway, Karen’s arrogant and aggressive attitudes towards the police and the press provoke abuse on social media and so, when Karen herself goes missing several weeks later, there is a long list of potential suspects who may have wanted to harm her!
In this story Paula Daly created a central character it was very easy to hate, and it’s hard to believe that any reader would think other than that all members of this family would fare much better if Karen, vividly portrayed as a woman who doesn’t care who gets hurt as long as she gets achieves what she wants, was to disappear from their lives! I thought that the author’s exploration of parenting and family dynamics, although somewhat superficial, was probably the strongest feature of the story. Although there were some interesting aspects to the development of the plot, I found too much of it to be predictable – I had guessed the outcome just over halfway through! – and this resulted in the story lacking any of the tension I look forward to in a good psychological thriller. I found many of the characters to be fairly stereotypical and one-dimensional and there were times when I felt like shaking most of them for their stupid and thoughtless behaviour! That said, I did enjoy the portrayal of Verity who, at times felt like the most mature character in the family! Also, I quite liked the very human characterisation of DI Joanne Aspinall (a familiar character from an earlier novel I read by this author) - although her lack of professionalism made me want to shout at her on several occasions!
This was an easy to read, relatively thought-provoking story about parenting and family relationships, with themes about abuse, control, deception, rivalry, secrets and lies providing some interesting discussion points for reading groups and, living in Cumbria, I certainly enjoyed the recognisable locations – these were the features which encouraged me to give it three rather than the two stars I had originally considered! ( )
  linda.a. | Jul 16, 2017 |
It was okay but it didn't do it for me. I guess the bottom line is the story dragged for me and I didn't care for any of the characters and that combination in a book is never a good one.

I'm disappointed because I really liked the other 2 books I read by Paula Daly. ( )
  Sharn | May 8, 2017 |
Karen Bloom is disappointed in her son Ewan so she wants her daughter Bronte is excel. Bronte is spending all her time on every activity and extra schooling on offer. Bronte however one day goes out and disappears. DS Joanne Aspinall is assigned to the case.

I've seen plenty good reviews for this book so was excited to read it. The story opens straight away with the need to know more about Karen Bloom and her family. It all seems ok on the surface but things are nit always what they seem. When the crime is committed I was already drawn into the story wanting to see how it went. The story progresses deeper with a shocking turn of events.

I quite like the character of Joanne. I was willing her not to do perhaps some of the things she did. I would like to see how she gets on if she appears in another book.

I'm not sure with the ending. It was justified with reasons given why but I felt it came out of nowhere. There was no room at all for guessing and I didn't see any clues.

This book for me was over hyped but I still enjoyed it. Its the second book for me by Paula Daly and I will read more by her. I just felt slightly disappointed with the ending.

Thank you to the publisher via Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book for review. ( )
  tina1969 | Apr 6, 2017 |
This is the latest release by British author Paula Daly and reunites readers with DS Joanne Aspinal and her aunt Jackie. I love those two. This is a complete standalone novel though and there is no need to have read any of the author's previous books, although I would recommend them.
The Trophy Child is little ten-year-old Bronte Bloom. She's her mother, Karen's, full-time project: after school lessons, music, dance, homework, achieving excellence....time to play and be a kid, not so much. The other two children in the Bloom household, 18-year-old Ewan, Karen's son from a previous relationship, and 15-year-old Verity, Karen's stepdaughter, are basically left to fend for themselves. As for the father? Noel is the local G.P. and prefers to spend his evenings in the pub, living blissfully in denial about the state of his dysfunctional, blended family. Until the day Bronte goes missing.
This isn't another one of those missing child thrillers, though. Bronte reappears and soon DS Joanne Aspinal and her new partner DS Oliver Black are investigating a different case in relation to Karen, the simply horrible and annoying mother, and Noel, the spineless father.
This was a solid domestic suspense thriller, which I enjoyed. I didn't think the plot was as strong as previous books I read by this author. Nevertheless, it was captivating and I enjoyed the dry humour. Besides, Paula Daly always manages to make me want to visit the Lake District. She certainly has a talent for creating characters that you love to hate. But I felt the relationships within this family were really only dealt with on quite a superficial level.
Recommended if you enjoy family-orientated drama.
I received an ARC via NetGalley. ( )
  Pet12 | Mar 7, 2017 |
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The girl's changing room smelled heavily of sweat,  mud and a sickly sweet deodorant that was beginning to irritate the back of her throat.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802125948, Hardcover)

Paula Daly is acclaimed for her distinctive voice, masterful plotting, and terrifying depictions of ordinary people whose everyday lives are turned upside down through deception and murder. In her unsettling new domestic thriller, The Trophy Child, Daly digs beneath the serene surface of the idyllic suburban Lake District community where families strive for perfection, delivering a suspenseful, surprising story of motherhood and fallibility.

Karen Bloom is not the coddling mother type. She believes in raising her children for success. Some in the neighborhood call her assertive, others say she’s driven, but in gossiping circles she’s known as: the tiger mother. Karen believes that tough discipline is the true art of parenting and that achievement leads to ultimate happiness. She expects her husband and her children to perform at 200 percent—no matter the cost. But in an unending quest for excellence, her seemingly flawless family start to rebel against her.

Her husband Noel is a handsome doctor with a proclivity for alcohol and women. Their prodigy daughter, Bronte, is excelling at school, music lessons, dance classes, and yet she longs to run away. Verity, Noel’s teenage daughter from his first marriage, is starting to display aggressive behavior. And Karen’s son from a previous relationship falls deeper into drug use. When tragedy strikes the Blooms, Karen’s carefully constructed facade begins to fall apart—and once the deadly cracks appear, they are impossible to stop.

A thrilling tale of ambition and murder, Daly’s richly imagined world of suburban striving and motherly love is an absorbing page-turner about the illusions of perfection and the power games between husband and wife, parent and child.

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 27 Sep 2016 21:41:25 -0400)

"Paula Daly is acclaimed for her distinctive voice, masterful plotting, and terrifying depictions of ordinary people whose everyday lives are turned upside down through deception and murder. In her unsettling new domestic thriller, The Trophy Child, Daly digs beneath the serene surface of the idyllic suburban Lake District community where families strive for perfection, delivering a suspenseful, surprising story of motherhood and fallibility. Karen Bloom is not the coddling mother type. She believes in raising her children for success. Some in the neighborhood call her assertive, others say she's driven, but in gossiping circles she's known as: the tiger mother. Karen believes that tough discipline is the true art of parenting and that achievement leads to ultimate happiness. She expects her husband and her children to perform at 200 percent-no matter the cost. But in an unending quest for excellence, her seemingly flawless family start to rebel against her. Her husband Noel is a handsome doctor with a proclivity for alcohol and women. Their prodigy daughter, Bronte, is excelling at school, music lessons, dance classes, and yet she longs to run away. Verity, Noel's teenage daughter from his first marriage, is starting to display aggressive behavior. And Karen's son from a previous relationship falls deeper into drug use. When tragedy strikes the Blooms, Karen's carefully constructed facade begins to fall apart-and once the deadly cracks appear, they are impossible to stop. A thrilling tale of ambition and murder, Daly's richly imagined world of suburban striving and motherly love is an absorbing page-turner about the illusions of perfection and the power games between husband and wife, parent and child"--… (more)

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