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  • First Class!

    The Family Friend is an intense psychological thriller about internet stalking, the struggles of having a young family and the impact of online bullying. Rafael (Raf) Donadoni, an Italian interior designer, his fiancée Erin Braune and their nine-month-old son, Bobby live on the south coast of England. Struggling to bond with little Bobby, Erin is frustrated as well as consumed by guilt because she cannot seem to feel any love for him. Raf, on the other hand, spends quality time with Bobby, even sleeping with him at night but he doesn't understand Erin’s apathy and increasing hostility towards the baby which is putting a strain on their relationship. A stay at home mum, Erin relies on Raf to keep the money rolling in, but becomes interested in being an Instamum and begins posting snippets, pictures and videos online to share a seemingly perfect life. As she rapidly builds a massive following her corporate sponsorships give her the opportunity to start earning serious money. Before long Erin is targeted by an internet troll who seems to be following her around in real life, snapping photos of her that are damaging to her image and sharing them online. Meanwhile, Amanda, an old friend of Raf's turns up from Australia and seems to bond immediately with baby Bobby. As Erin wonders what Amanda's presence could mean for her and her family a devastatingly revealing video is posted online. Laced with malice, this is a riveting, compulsive and drama-filled domestic thriller with a great narrative featuring issues of social media addiction, abuse, obsession, secrets, jealousy, mental health issues and toxic behaviour. Dark and unsettling, C.C. MacDonald's execution of this cautionary tale is first-class. A superbly told, captivating, very highly recommended read. I received a complimentary copy of this novel at my request from Harvill Secker via NetGalley. This review is my own unbiased opinion.

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