Picture of Innocence by T.J. Stimson #blogtour

I’m thrilled to be sharing my review of Picture of Innocence today so huge thanks to Sabah at Avon for my review copy and my invite onto the tour.

About this book…

With three children under ten, Maddie is struggling. On the outside, she’s a happy young mother, running a charity as well as a household. But inside, she’s exhausted. She knows she’s lucky to have to have a support network around her. Not just her loving husband, but her family and friends too.

But is Maddie putting her trust in the right people? Because when tragedy strikes, she is certain someone has hurt her child – and everyone is a suspect, including Maddie herself…

The characters in this book are about to discover that looks can be deceiving… because anyone is capable of terrible things. Even the most innocent, even you.

What did I think…

Oh I really loved this one! I want to say that I really enjoyed it but that seems a rather inappropriate word for how I felt after I read this heartbreaking and disturbing family oriented psychological thriller. It got beneath my skin very quickly once I started reading it and I was compelled to read it whenever I could, even taking it to work with me to finish during my lunch break as I couldn’t wait until I got home that day to finish it.

I empathised with Maddie right from the start. As a mum of three ( all aged within 2 years of each other) I remember well the utter exhaustion that used to descend upon me after a particularly tough day. The feelings of guilt, worry and the endless task of trying to be all things to all people are mentally exhausting as well as physically draining so I totally understood how she felt. The plot was slowly knitted together by the two narrators (Maddie and a young girl called Lydia) until both points of view collided in a shocking and unexpected moment. There were plenty of clues along the twisty path for us to pick up on but there was still a sharp intake of breath from me once things became much clearer with a big reveal!

This book looks to my favourite argument, that of nature vs nurture, in it’s need to understand the behaviour of some of the characters. It’s not an easy read at times due to descriptions of abuse and cruelty but not one word is wasted in its search for answers. The grief felt by Maddie is palpable and I read this with tears in my eyes at time, an unusual occurrence for a book marketed as a psychological thriller but it had a profound effect on me.

Beautifully written, expertly crafted and with a brilliant ending that hasn’t left me in the days since I read this. Highly recommended.

Meet the author…

Tess Stimson is the British author of ten novels, including top-ten bestseller The Adultery Club, and two non-fiction books, which between them have been translated into dozens of languages.

Her first “proper” job after graduating from St Hilda’s College, Oxford (where she read English) was as a news trainee with ITN (Independent Television News). She reported and produced regional and world stories, travelling to hotspots and war-zones all over the globe.

In 2002, she was appointed Professor of Creative Writing at the University of South Florida and moved to the US. She now lives and works in Vermont with her husband, Erik, their three children, and (at the last count) two cats, three fish, one gerbil and a large number of bats in the attic.


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I am a Norfolk girl living in leafy Cheshire with my grumpy Scotsman. A mum and nana who lives for my family but who is also addicted to reading (and Marmite!) I will read almost anything but my preferred genres to review are psychological thrillers, crime procedural novels or women's fiction. My kindle is my life but I also have a substantial bookshelf in my cosy reading room where I can go to escape the stresses of family life with plenty of tea and chocolate. I am a member of netgalley and bookbridg. I review on Amazon, where I'm a Top 500 reviewer, and Goodreads. You can always find me over on Twitter @jocatrobertson for any review requests.

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