Expecting a story that would captivate and hold attention must like Peyton Place and Stepford Wives, allow me to welcome Sarah Pekkanen to the blog today with the audio version of her latest title, narrated by Madeline Maby.
The Perfect Neighbors
It is often said that you can never know what goes on inside the four walls of a home, and Sarah Pekkanen confirms and exposes this oft-heard phrase in this tale of Newport Cove.
Three long-term residents and friends; Gigi, Kellie and Susan are struggling with life’s changes. Children growing older and more independent, a husband’s ambition threatens long-buried secrets, boredom and a perhaps not-so-innocent flirtation and one who stalks her ex from lingering resentment of his new, forward-moving life with another.
And then, newcomers arrive: not unfriendly, but reserved: and no hints of their lives before Newport Cove are forthcoming.
Pekkanen lets us into the lives of these very different women, showing their long-standing connections and the support they provide one another. With all of the changes that are happening for them all, the new distraction provided by Tessa and her family is welcome.
It is a myth to think that anyone is completely aware of another’s thoughts, life or motivations: and often little details that would provide deeper understanding are left unsaid and unrevealed. Such is the case with the original triad, so the ability to turn their gazes and speculations to Tessa is a welcome relief that the author captured perfectly.
Tessa’s story is a strange one, and as it reveals in a series of flashbacks that serve as counterpoint to the rest of the story in the present, everyone is puzzling and speculating about the family, their history, and, most of all, how it all influences and effects their feelings about them.
What stood out most to me is the actual slow build to a climax that was, in many ways, anticlimactic. The build and interplay between the women and their own issues and worries are far more compelling, where Tessa’s story could have presented more angst and evoked more emotion for me.
Narration was provided by Madeline Maby. I’ve had decent and not-so experiences with her narration, and unfortunately this presentation was uneven. Character voices were so subtly distinguished as to be confused, often, and those distinctions often failed to appear with regularity. Pacing is yet another issue that distracted: no contextual reason for the variations – as they did not seem to be adopted as a “character trait’, in fact they were most reminiscent of a new reader struggling with an unfamiliar piece to read. It’s rare that I cannot put aside the narrator’s performance to find the text of the story intriguing. Here, however, the unevenness did wholly impact, requiring my rewinding and listening to some passages 2 or 3 times. I shall not be reviewing or recommending more titles from this narrator.
Stars: Overall 3 Narration 1 Story 3
Title: The Perfect Neighbors
Author: Sarah Pekkanen
Genre: Contemporary Woman's Fiction, Family Saga, Setting: American
Narrator: Madeleine Maby
Published by: Simon & Schuster Audio, Washington Square Press
Published on: 5 July 2016
Source: Simon and Schuster Audio
Audio Length: 10 Hours: 33 minutes
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Bucolic Newport Cove, where spontaneous block parties occur on balmy nights and all of the streets are named for flowers, is proud of its distinction of being named one the top twenty safest neighborhoods in the US. It’s also one of the most secret-filled.
Kellie Scott has just returned to work after a decade of being a stay-at-home mom. She’s adjusting to high heels, scrambling to cook dinner for her family after a day at the office—and soaking in the dangerous attention of a very handsome, very married male colleague. Kellie’s neighbor Susan Barrett begins every day with fresh resolutions: she won’t eat any carbs, she’ll go to bed at a reasonable hour, and she’ll stop stalking her ex-husband and his new girlfriend. Gigi Kennedy seems to have it all together—except her teenage daughter has turned into a hostile stranger and her husband is running for Congress, which means her old skeletons are in danger of being brought into the light.
Then a new family moves to this quiet, tree-lined cul-de-sac. Tessa Campbell seems friendly enough to the other mothers, if a bit reserved. Then the neighbors notice that no one is ever invited to Tessa’s house. And soon, it becomes clear that Tessa is hiding the biggest secret of all.
A copy of this title was provided via Simon and Schuster Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.