The Family Friend by C. C. MacDonald, published by Harvill Secker (4 March 2021) @ccmacdwriter @HarvillSecker @PenguinUKBooks @vintagebooks #TheFamilyFriend #NetGalley

From the author of Happy Ever After comes an unmissable new psychological thriller about a famous Insta-Mum influencer and what happens when a someone starts to stalk her every move…

Erin lives an idyllic life by the seaside with her baby boy and handsome Australian fiancée. She’s upbeat and happy – a natural mum. At least that’s what her thousands of followers on Instagram think. 

In the real world, Erin is struggling with anxiety and finding it difficult to connect with her screaming son. So when a famous agent offers to make her the biggest instamum out there, she’s over the moon. And when Amanda, a family friend who’s visiting from Australia, says she’ll move in and babysit to help make it happen, it seems like the stars have finally aligned for Erin’s exciting new career. 

But when a devastatingly revealing video is posted online by an anonymous troll, Erin’s brought crashing back to earth. As everything she’s worked for starts to slip away, Erin must find out how far she can trust those closest to her.

Praise for HAPPY EVER AFTER:

**Picked as a 2020 ‘Unmissable Debut’ by the Daily Express**

‘Kept me gripped and kept me guessing’ Erin Kelly, author of He Said/She Said

‘Excellent domestic noir, chillingly plausible… I loved the ending’ Jo Spain, author of The Confession

An absorbing story, a bunch of unexpected twists, great writing. I totally lost myself in this book’ John Boyne, author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

Erin Braune is struggling with provincial life, missing her dissolute friends and a wailing ball of rage she finds hard to love. The baby descriptions are so on point — Bobby’s face almost fluorescent, more and more mucus sludging out of his face — it’s hard not to laugh. But you can also ‘hear’ the screaming and feel Erin’s desperation. She is financially reliant on her fiancé and with no job, she is saddled with student debt.

Rafael Donadoni – Raf – spends more time with baby Bobby, sleeping with him at night and unable to understand why Erin is so disengaged. The tension in their relationship is palpable and at times uncomfortable. Eggshell-fragile Amanda’s presence doesn’t help. She’s too mellow, too good with Bobby, too in control. The whole dynamic is unnerving.

While Erin appears on brand with her parent/toddler support group, she is screaming inside. It’s her Instagram followers that keep her afloat and her posts are relatable, shareable and funny. She longs to talk to her followers, anything to numb Bobby’s constant screaming. She misses her brother, Alex, whose Richmond life is perfect and a mother, who doesn’t think much of Raf. Why was Erin’s acting career botched? It’s easy to root for Erin when there’s no one else for her to turn to.

Grace’s pitch has landed Erin a place on the MotherBoard podcast, things begin to look up. Celebrity guests and mega-influencers could be a huge thing for Erin’s profile. Again, Amanda steps in to babysit and Erin finds herself with the best agent she could possibly hope for. Until the video. The one thing she dreads the most. All eyes are on Erin and her addiction to her phone, how toxic social media is, how it’s destroying her. With coercive and controlling behaviour at the heart of this story, it’s easy to come away feeling the same trauma some of these characters have experienced and to ask yourself the question; who’s threatening who?

It’s a brilliantly written book by an author well worth watching. Thank you to Netgalley, Random House UK Vintage and author CC MacDonald for the privilege of reading this book.

C. C. MacDonald

About the Author:

Readers, hello.

I’m a novelist, playwright, screenwriter and actor. I live in Margate, AKA Shoreditch-on-Sea, with my wife, two small children and a co-dependent cockapoo called Frankie.

Happy Ever After is my first novel and I’m incredibly excited to share it with you in January 2020. It’s a thrilling story about guilt, blame, how becoming a parent changes you and transforms your relationship and the pitfalls of pursuing an idealised family life. There was a huge amount I wanted to explore in this book. The seismic psychological change of parenting, the mass exodus of freelancers from London to places like Margate and Hastings, the way that childcare staff are treated by parents, the casual cruelty of privileged teenagers, my irrational hatred of pigeons… But I mainly wanted to write a book that a reader wanted to read, and an ending that had them swanning off to recommend the book to their friends.

These are my all time favourites:
Book – 1984
Film – Chinatown
TV – Succession
Album – Station to Station
Play – The Seagull
Computer game: Football Manager (I know. Awful.)
Ice-cream – rum-raisin
Pasta shape – fusilli

Other books by the author:

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