Don’t be fooled by the cover photograph, this is not a thriller about trains. Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica is a psychological tale of parenting, grief, abuse, and husbands and wives who stop communicating and stop interacting. At times I had to take a gulp and accept some situations which seemed unrealistic to me, it was either that or put the book down.
Heidi and Chris live with their daughter Zoe in Chicago. One freezing wintery day, running for a train, Heidi spots a homeless girl with a baby. She hesitates, wondering whether to say something, and then the girl is gone. Wishing she had helped, Heidi looks out for the girl the next day… and takes her home. Zoe sees it as an invasion of her space, Chris worries about who the girl – Willow, with baby Ruby – really is, and whether she poses a threat to his family and property. Both are right to be worried.
At times I grew impatient with Heidi for indulging herself and impatient for Chris to show some intuition and see what was really going on. Unfortunately Chris is a bit of a stereotype, the hard-working banker husband who spends more time at work than home, fending off the glamorous co-worker. Zoe’s thoughts we do not hear. For me, Willow is the most interesting character and I would have liked to read more about her relationship with Matthew. Concentrating more on Willow’s story, rather than Heidi’s would make this a completely different book.
Unfairly, I think, the publisher compares Pretty Baby to Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins [in other words, to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, giants of their genre]. But they are page-turners whereas the pace of this story is slower, allowing the various threads to unfold. What kept me turning the page? What is Willow hiding? When will Chris or Zoe speak out? How far will Heidi go to help a stranger and why is she risking everything?
Read my review of Mary Kubica’s debut novel, The Good Girl, to find out which of the two I preferred.
‘Pretty Baby’ by Mary Kubica [UK: Mira] Buy now
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PRETTY BABY by @MaryKubica #bookreview via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1T5