Such a Good Mother by Helen Monks Takhar is a unique domestic thriller. Rose has always wanted to belong, and with the Woolf school, she gets her chance.
All quotes are from an advanced reader copy, and may or may not reflect the published edition.
Some women would do anything for their children. This thrilling novel cuts straight to the dark heart of modern motherhood, privilege, and the lengths we’ll go to get ahead, from the author of the “addictive” (People) thriller Precious You.
Rose O’Connell is barely surviving. Her relationship with her husband is on the rocks and their son has isn’t fitting in at his new school, the prestigious Woolf Academy. Their tiny flat in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood–the very place Rose grew up as the daughter of an infamous local con artist–can barely contain her family. Rose can’t catch a professional break either, trapped in the same junior bank teller role for years. Life as the only mom in a nametag and uniform at The Woolf’s shiny school gates isn’t easy.
Not so for those in the elite and secretive Circle, a tight-knit group of mothers who rule the school, led by the charismatic and glamorous Amala Kaur. In exchange for supporting The Woolf’s relentless fundraising and public image drives, the women enjoy lucrative business opportunities, special privileges for their children, and the admiration of the entire community.
After the mysterious death of one of The Circle’s members, Rose dares to hope that filling the vacancy could set her family up for success. And when Amala makes the shocking decision to invite Rose into their clique, her fortunes, self-esteem, and status soar. But the deeper Rose gets inside The Circle, the darker the secrets lurking within every perfectly Instagrammable life. Far from being a dream come true, being inside The Circle could prove Rose’s worst nightmare…
Characters: 9 | Atmosphere: 8 | Writing: 6 | Plot: 7 | Intrigue: 7 | Logic: 7 | Enjoyment: 8
“Don’t forget, when you’re offered a place for your child, you still have a choice. One day you might not have options, you may end up with no freedom at all.”
Such a Good Mother surprised me with how well thought out it was. I found myself incredibly invested in watching this all come together, and subsequently unravel. Domestic thrillers have a tendency to be boring. Some even border on being funnily detached from the world around them. However, this book managed to entwine both the rich and the poor, and the effects of those backgrounds on people’s plans and outlooks.
“Tonight feels dangerous, as though I’m dancing on a knife’s edge of something startling in tis potential.”
While some were leaning into the tropes around men being untrustworthy, I was quite pleased with how that all turned out. Especially with the concept of father’s being somewhat intentionally useless with their children. While there were times I felt I didn’t trust where we were going, Takhar led me to an ending worth waiting on the edge of my seat for.
“Less of a fairytale, Rose, more like a nightmare.”
I was floored with the ending and the way it came together. The reveal wasn’t some jaw-dropping twist, and I don’t want to mislead anyone into believing it to be. It was, instead, everyone getting what’s coming to them on all levels of the meaning. The way Takhar balanced this out really impressed me, and I’m excited to read more from this author.
“Each sway lasts as long as my mind says to itself: She won’t get away with it. She won’t get away with it. She won’t get away with it.”
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.