Little Disasters – Sarah Vaughan

In this new novel from the internationally bestselling author of the “cool, sharp, and beautifully written” (Lisa Jewell, New York Times bestselling author) Anatomy of a Scandal, a doctor is faced with an ethical dilemma when her friend’s child lands in the emergency room.

Liz Trenchard is an experienced pediatrician with a duty to protect all children admitted to her busy emergency room. So when her friend Jess turns up at the ER one night with her baby girl and a story that doesn’t quite add up, Liz is forced to question everything she thought she knew about her friend and about herself. There are so many secrets and so many lies. The truth can’t come soon enough.

With Sarah Vaughan’s signature “clever and compelling” (Claire Douglas, author of Last Seen Alive) prose, this is a tightly-wound and evocative page-turner that will haunt you long after you finish the last page.

About the Author: 

Sarah Vaughan read English at Oxford and went on to be a journalist. After training with the Press Association, she worked for The Guardian for 11 years as a news reporter, health correspondent and political correspondent before leaving to freelance. She started writing fiction the week she turned forty. Anatomy of a Scandal is her third novel and will be published in January 2018 by S&S in the UK, US and Canada, plus other commonwealth countries. It will also be translated into 16 languages. She lives in Cambridge with her husband and two young children and is currently writing her fourth novel.

My Review:

My mind is still reeling and my heart beat is still erratic after finishing Sarah Vaughan’s latest book Little Disasters in the early hours of the morning and now having the time to fully digest and think about what I have read, I can confidentially report that this book is a powerful and thought-provoking tale.

Liz Trenchard, a paediatrician at the local hospital,  is faced with an ethical and personally difficult decision when her good friend Jess comes into A&E with her youngest daughter Betsey, aged 10 months.  Betsey has suffered a serious and potentially life changing head trauma, yet Jess took over 6 hours to bring her to hospital and is vague and cagey about how the accident happened.  With a duty of care to the baby, Liz and her team have no alternative but to report this to the authorities, bringing social services and the police in to investigate.

The story is then revealed layer by layer by several narrators keeping the reader gripped and totally engrossed in this powerful and often highly emotional story.  Both of the main characters are brilliantly portrayed and utterly believable.  Liz is struggling with her guilt having called the authorities, questioning her professional and personal observations as a doctor and a friend to Jess.  Could this accident have been avoided?  Was Jess struggling with three young children?  With her own demons to battle having had a very unhappy childhood and a strained relationship with her own mother Liz is even more determined to help Jess.

Reading Jess’ account of the accident and the lead up to what happened and why is utterly and completely heart-breaking especially as a mother, however Sarah Vaughan’s brings Jess’ mental health issues so vividly to life that all readers can’t help but feel emotionally affected by the situation.

There were several times in the book that it was glaring obvious to me what Jess was doing and I felt let down by her friends and husband who hadn’t picked up on her emotional distress, and my heart melted when reading her son, Frankie’s chapters.

This is another brilliant, thought-provoking tale of motherhood, friendship, guilt and shame and it kept me totally gripped throughout.

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