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The Playdate: A Novel Paperback – July 3, 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 86 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“British author Millar’s engrossing debut offers an unsettling, realistic view of friendships, gossip, and loneliness . . . What starts as a quiet story about neighbors soon builds into a gripping psychological thriller.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Millar’s well-drawn characters and impeccably structured plot instantly grab the reader and may leave parents wondering who to trust with their children. A supremely accomplished debut thriller by a writer to watch.”—Booklist (starred review)

“A disturbing psychological thriller that probes the insular lives of social misfits in a London suburb.”—New York Times Book Review

“A must-read that will tap into every mother's primal fears.”—Sophie Hannah

“Like the best thrillers, it is quietly creepy and expertly crafted. Add it to your book club reading list now.”—Stylist Magazine

“Taut, page-turning and surprising.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer

“A captivating psychological thriller . . . The writing is taut, the action slow building, the emotions intense, and the climax explosive, making it a must read for all.”—Lori’s Reading Corner

“Millar’s gripping thriller has anxious moms in its crosshairs.”—People

The Playdate is an intriguing psychological thriller that starts as a treatise on how well even best friends and neighbors truly know each other before turning into a taut chiller . . . Readers will appreciate Louise Miller’s thought-provoking drama as the masks slowly come off.”—The Mystery Gazette

“Suspenseful . . . I couldn't put the book down till I had gotten to the end.” (Book Dilettante)

“Terrifying. This is a book not to be missed.” (A Bookish Librarian)

“This engrossing debut novel of psychological suspense builds on the primal fear all parents have of trusting relative strangers to care for their children.” (Stop, You’re Killing Me!)

The Playdate felt like Gone Girl . . . They both built great suspense from intimate relationships, and had plenty of twists and turns.” (Reading is My Superpower)

“Intense.” (Steph the Bookworm)

“A dark, edgy story of suburban paranoia and manipulation. [Millar] takes her characters seriously, considering their struggles from moral, ethical, and humanistic perspectives.” (Curledup.com)

“Sinister, yet beautifully written and very real, The Playdate is a modern Gothic novel with echoes of du Maurier. You will slip into the lives of its London cast but your allegiances will shift throughout. Louise Millar plots her story so skillfully, you will distrust the characters to the point where you cannot even trust yourself. But you will read to the end, madly. And when you put this book down, you'll wish there were more.” (Ann Bauer, author of The Forever Marriage)

“Louise Millar's novel sucks the reader in like quicksand to the surprising ended. I did not want to miss a page!” (Lee Woodruff, New York Times bestselling author of Those We Love Most)

The Playdate is a leap above most suburban thrillers. Louise Millar tugs you in with smart writing and a sneaky plot before delivering the best kind of twist —the one that drives you like a demon to the finish line. So go ahead, read all night. The Playdate is worth the hangover.” (Julia Heaberlin, author of Playing Dead)

About the Author

Louise Millar was raised in Scotland. She began her journalism career in music and film magazines. A former senior editor at Marie Claire, she has written for Red, Psychologies, Stella, the Observer, Glamour, Stylist, and The Guardian. She lives in London with her husband and daughters.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 383 pages
  • Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books; Original ed. edition (July 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781451656671
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451656671
  • ASIN: 145165667X
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #711,808 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 5, 2012
Format: Paperback
The lives of three female neighbors in a London suburb collide in Louise Millar's "The Playdate." In alternating chapters, we get to know Callie Roberts, Suzy Howard, and Debs Ribwell. Callie is a single mum struggling to get by. Her five-year old daughter, Rae, has a heart condition that requires close monitoring. Suzy Howard, an American and stay-at-home mother of three boys, is married to the handsome and successful Jez. He is frequently away on business and increasingly preoccupied with his job. Debs is a nervous middle-aged newlywed whose husband, Allan, is trying to keep her on an even keel; she is rattled by loud noises and, it seems, a bit paranoid.

Callie, who is lonely, turns to Suzy for company, and the two become inseparable. However, Callie is all too aware of the vast difference between Suzy's affluent lifestyle and her own. She longs to go back to her old job as a sound designer, so that she can earn some much-needed income. However, Suzy is as dependent on Callie as Callie is on Suzy. How will Suzy react when her chum is no longer around as much? When a series of strange events disturbs the tranquility of their quiet street, Callie and Suzy join forces against Debs who, they suspect, may pose a danger to them and their children.

Louise Millar leads us down the garden path, providing us with subtle clues that there is more here than meets the eye. When the author suddenly pulls the rug out from under us, we are a bit stunned. How could we have been so misguided? Readers will differ on whether or not Millar plays fair, but most will be frantically turning pages to find out what happens next. The novel's plot is reminiscent of Russian nesting dolls, in which more is hidden than is revealed.
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Comment 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
In this case, the stars say it all. Millar's book is billed as a psychological thriller. Based on what I expected from the description on the back, it was OK. Not horrible, definitely not great. With a book like this, it's easier to point out the problems, so I'll take the easy road first. The biggest problem I had was really basic. We have only 3 main characters, which leaves us with only two potential "bad guys." According to standard plot mechanics, one will be a red herring. With that logic in hand, I pretty much knew who the real "bad guy" was going to be about a quarter of the way into the book. I also knew some other important stuff that I'm pretty sure I wasn't supposed to suspect quite that early - but maybe I'm wrong and Millar meant what I took for a big reveal to merely be confirmation of something we were supposed to have figured out long before the reveal . . .

I agree with another reviewer who pointed out that the plot required some coincidences and contrivances that, while not necessarily out of line for a book of this sort, somehow felt hard to believe, suggesting that the author could have done a better job of setting them up. I was never able to become emotionally invested in the main character, or to really connect with her in any way - even though I was a single parent myself. Finally, the really scary stuff - the part of the book that should have had me turning pages into the night - happened late, was very short, and was on its way to being resolved even as it happened. So the "thriller" aspect felt very foreshortened.

All that having been said, I still found myself enjoying parts of the book. I quite liked Rae, Callie's daughter. And of the three adult women, I enjoyed Debs the most.
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Comment 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
Callie, Suzy and Debs all live in the same street. Callie is a single mother and lives with her daughter Rae who has a heart problem. She wants to go back to work but that will need careful planning. Suzy is an American, married to Jez and mother of three small boys. Debs is married with no children and a part time job at a nearby school - she has just moved in next door to Suzy. The story is told from the point of view of each woman in alternate chapters. Callie narrates her own story and the other two are told in the third person.

Gradually the tension builds up as the story progresses. Is Debs really mad and what is her history? She thinks people are spying on her but just because you are paranoid it doesn't mean that they aren't out to get you. Is Suzy really the good friend Callie thinks she is? Surely it would be easy to tell your best friend that you have an opportunity to go back to work? Is Suzy's marriage really as strong as it appears? Who can you really trust with your children?

This is an interesting story which shows you cannot judge by appearances and that it is difficult to know who you can really trust. I found it well written and intriguing to try and piece things together to work out what is going on. I found Callie a little annoying as a character though I thought Debs was well done and I liked her in spite of her obsession with calm and order. The men in the story were more shadowy characters and did not really come to life for me which is why I have only given the book four stars. If you want something a bit different then give this a try - chick lit it definitely isn't in spite of its cover picture.
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