About the book
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.
I’m a big fan of Paula Daly’s writing so was eagerly anticipating The Trophy Child and I have to say that it didn’t disappoint.
Karen is a real tiger mum. She puts all her hope and ambition onto her daughter, trying to mould her into the perfect person. Karen won’t accept failure, won’t even accept good enough – Bronte has to be perfect. Bronte is obviously struggling at not being allowed to be a normal child with time to play with friends, and the situation is like a giant pressure cooker. Bronte’s step-sister Verity has already lashed out at Karen once, and there is still such a fury simmering under the surface in their relationship. Karen’s husband, and father of both girls, is quite ineffectual when it comes to to his family – he basically wants to keep the peace and if he can’t keep the peace he’ll do his best to stay out of the situation.
I think what I loved the most about this novel was all the layers. I thought it was going to be a novel about a child who goes missing and the way the family copes but it’s about so much more than that. There are so many different dynamics to the family at the centre of this novel that it makes for a fascinating look at why people are the way they are. We see how it feels to be the second wife, the step-child, the half-sister, the first wife, and the husband who seems to be caught between his wife and ex-wife, his children and step-child. It was the relationships between all the characters that fascinated me the most, especially when the police become involved. It’s the characters that make this novel so brilliant, even more so than the great plot. None of the characters are particularly likeable and that made this book so fascinating as I wasn’t sure how I felt when they were in turmoil. It made me consider my own emotions and I love when a novel draws me into it to this degree.
I have to admit that I did not see where this book was going. I was so confident for a fair bit of this novel that I knew how it was going to end and I was completely wrong. It’s not often that a book has me stumped but this one got me and I loved it for that!
This is definitely one of those ‘just one more chapter…’ books that you end up staying up ’til the early hours reading because you just can’t put it down. It’s a gripping read, and really does have you turning the pages at a frantic rate as you want to know what is going on.
The Trophy Child is a disturbing look at how tense and difficult trying to integrate children from one relationship, and a child from a second relationship into one family can be. This novel takes the situation to an extreme but the the day-to-day issues within this family will resonate with readers, and will likely send a cold shiver down some spines!
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The Trophy Child is out now and available to buy here.
About the author
Paula Daly was born in Lancashire. Before beginning her first novel JUST WHAT KIND OF MOTHER ARE YOU? she was a self-employed physiotherapist. She lives in the Lake District with her husband, three children and whippet Skippy.