Review: Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan

Title: Little Disasters

Author: Sarah Vaughan

Published: May 1st 2020, Simon & Schuster Australia

Status: Read May 2020 courtesy Simon & Schuster


My Thoughts:

Little Disasters is a compelling domestic drama by Sarah Vaughan.

“…but did you ever imagine killing your baby? Did you check and double-check you hadn’t overdosed her on Calpol; that you hadn’t poured bleach into her bottle; that she wasn’t being suffocated by soft toys in her crib? That you hadn’t inadvertently smothered her?”

When Liz is called to the ER to assess a ten month old child with a fractured skull, she’s surprised to find that her patient is Betsey, the daughter of a friend. Jess is the most attentive mother Liz knows so her friend’s vague explanation for her daughters injury troubles her, and she reluctantly agrees when her supervisor insists that social services be notified.

As the authorities begin to investigate, the story unfolds largely from the viewpoints of Liz, Jess, and Jess’s husband, Ed. Liz and Ed are baffled by the implication that Jess could have deliberately hurt Betsey, as a mother of three Jess has never demonstrated anything but devotion towards her children, but it’s clear to them both she is hiding something.

“The first time Jess imagines hurting Betsey, she has been home from hospital for three days.”

And she is. Vaughn captures Jess’s distress, guilt, and confusion very well. Many new mothers will be familiar with Jess’s anxiety on some level, I remember being frightened I would somehow slip and fall going down the three stairs to my backyard with my newborn in my arms. Jess though is consumed with the idea that harm will come to Betsey, not just accidentally, but deliberately and by her own hand.

“They all doubt her:….

And maybe they are right to do so.

Because she did something terrible, didn’t she?”

The well crafted plot offers more than one twist as the shocking truth of what happened the evening Betsey was injured is slowly revealed. Vaughn thoughtfully examines the complexities of motherhood, and in particular its impact on mental health. Along with Jess’s struggle with PND, the story also explores Liz’s traumatic relationship with her own mother, and touches on issues such as infertility and marital breakdown. The themes of friendship and connection are also important to the novel.

I found Little Disasters to be a gripping and insightful novel.


Available from Simon & Schuster Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Indiebound

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. yvonne473
    May 15, 2020 @ 11:24:06

    This sounds really good.

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Jennifer
    May 15, 2020 @ 12:18:18

    Great review, I have this to read …

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Helen Murdoch
    May 15, 2020 @ 14:22:57

    Thank goodness it wasn’t just me that worried about falling down the stairs with my newborn in my arms. But, she’s 19 now and all in one piece so I needn’t have worried. This one sounds good.

    Liked by 1 person


  4. fuonlyknew
    May 17, 2020 @ 00:28:58

    This sounds very dramatic. I’d like to read it.



  5. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out
  6. stacybuckeye
    May 25, 2020 @ 02:55:51

    Yikes! I don’t know if I could read that right now.

    Liked by 1 person


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