I hadn't read anything by Sarah Tucker before, but having read and enjoyed The School Run by Sophie King, and having bought it on Amazon, I was directed towards The Playground Mafia which was another book that they thought I might enjoy. Therefore, dutifully I bought it and have just read it while on holiday as it looked like light easy reading which it was.
The main character in the book is Caroline Gray who is newly divorced and has recently moved to the rather upmarket town of Frencham with her young son. This coincides with Ben's time to start school so she enrols him at The Sycamore, the local school where her friends Eva's and Heather's children soon attend. It does not take long for Caroline to realise that there are certain mums that rule the playground and these are aptly branded 'the playground mafia'. Worst is Sarah Flint, the chair of the Parents' Association along with her buddies. They do not like Caroline and her friends and the feeling is mutual and soon out and out war occurs! The question is who will ultimately come out on top?
Alongside all of these goings on, Caroline is trying to get her ex husband to take a greater interest in Ben , finding herself having to keep secrets for her friend Heather and there is even the hint of romance for Caroline in the shape of Peter Bishop, an old school friend. There is indeed a lot packed in to the 400 pages of this book and as I said it is an easy read that will keep your interest.
Having said that though, I did not really enjoy The Playground Mafia as much as I thought I would and there were a number of reasons for this. Firstly, although I like a bit of escapism, I do like the books that I read to be at least a little believable. I couldn't help but think that some of the mums' behaviour was so farfetched that it would just never happen! Maybe I just move in the wrong circles though!
Secondly, I want to like the characters and I certainly started off not liking any of them very much! Most seemed totally self-centred and really quite rude to others. Certainly not good role models for their children! This was certainly true of the character of Heather who is attempting to have the best of both worlds, by having an affair and treating her husband Harvey pretty shabbily. She is also quite petulant and her behaviour is pretty childish. I did warm to Caroline as the novel progressed but it did take me a while.
The book is written in the first person and is told by Caroline and I do like books that are written this way. I feel that you do learn a lot more about what makes that character tick and this is true of Caroline. I particularly felt for her when she had to let Ben go and stay with his dad at Christmas because it was 'fair'.
Although I have a couple of reservations I think I would recommend this book as it is a pretty light and entertaining read. I sort of expected to identify a bit more with the characters as I am a school mum myself but it did not happen. In fact, as I was reading I couldn't help thinking that if my girls did attend The Sycamore, we would probably move!! Also, if you want a really good book about school parents I would suggest reading Sophie King's The School Run instead.
The book is published by Arrow and has just over 400 pages. The paperback has a RRP of £6.99.