BOOK CLUB: Her Pretty Face

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Author: Robyn Harding
ISBN: 9781925750935
RRP: $29.99
Publication Date: 1 July 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

Her Pretty Face is the second novel I have read by Robyn Harding and it won’t be the last. Her writing is taut with tension and what-ifs that had me trying to piece together the puzzle from early on, and not quite getting there until the very end.


We have three narrators, two time periods in a then and now, and a complex and disturbing mystery to piece together. There is a pervasive aura of mystery over the whole story so I am very wary of what to say because I don’t want to add any spoilers.

Frances is an overweight and anxious stay-at-home mum with a troubled son. They have recently started at the prestigious Forrester Academy and that is supposed to be the answer to her prayers. She wants to fit into the elite world of Forrester but an unfortunate incident sees her further outside the circle than she ever could have imagined.

Kate Randolph is nothing like Frances, she is beautiful, wealthy, powerful and confident; and she’s not interested in the posse of power-mums at Forrester. She stands up for Frances when walking past a gaggle of gossiping mums in the schoolyard one day and the two begin to bond. They have sons the same age who have built a rapport and are becoming close friends, Charles is Marcus’s only friend.

Kate doesn’t have a voice in the novel, we only see her through the eyes of the narrators; Frances, Daisy and DJ.

Daisy is a fourteen year old girl who is feeling alone; her father is distant, her mother is indifferent and they move so often that Daisy doesn’t bother trying to make real friends anymore. She is chasing a connection; to someone, to anyone and that leads to some pretty poor choices. Daisy is Kate’s daughter.

Narrator number three is DJ, the younger brother of a fifteen year old girl who was tortured, raped, beaten and ultimately murdered in 1996. He is our THEN voice, as the younger brother and survivor of the fallout we learn about the murder of his sister and the trial that dealt with her murderers.

Harding has woven suspense into every page as we are left trying to piece together the clues that will tell us who’s who. Our leading ladies both have behaviours which lead us to believe there is baggage, there is some past trauma that they are working through but they also seem pretty realistic.

The suspense is all character-driven and there are clues to tell us there is more to all of these characters than we first see.

Daisy was the character I felt the most for, an isolated teen making risky decisions in her quest for connection in this context had me very worried for her safety. Harding explores the brutality of the middle school hierarchy and this is a time where the brutality takes a new turn as teens start exploring their sexuality and opening up more avenues of humiliation and degradation.

Lies and deceit abound in Her Pretty Face and it leaves the characters debating whether people really change. This can be a really tricky one because everyone makes mistakes and bad choices, if they have done their time and made changes to become better people is it fair to still judge them on things that happened two decades ago? If people have paid their price and done their time are they then entitled to privacy and to live out their lives under the radar? These are questions that were hotly debated and I’m not sure that there’s a black and white answer but I do kind of think that forgiving someone just to save a friendship could be a little short-sighted.

The suspense was well developed and I think the pacing was spot on. The pieces slowly came together for a cohesive ending that tied up all the loose ends and answered all my strange twists. This was an engrossing story that left me severely disturbed, especially having a fourteen year old daughter of my own.

I would recommend this one to lovers of suspenseful domestic drama and if you enjoyed The Party I think you will definitely love this one.

Robyn Harding can be found on Facebook and RobynHarding.com.

Her Pretty Face is published by Simon & Schuster and is available now through Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster 10 of our Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading Her Pretty Face so please be aware that there may be spoilers in the comments below.

10 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Her Pretty Face

  1. Can people change? So many twists and turns I devoured this book as quickly as I could, not wanting to have to wait any longer to find out how it was going to end.

    The story was told in the perspective of 3 different characters and based in the present and the past. While I didn’t like and couldn’t really relate to any of the characters that didn’t stop me from really enjoying it.

    Some elements of the story were a bit disturbing and hard to read so I skimmed over them a bit,

    I loved this book more than I like The Party by the same authored.

    Thanks to Simon and Schuster and Beautt and Lace for giving me the chance to read this book. Hurry up Robyn and write another one.

  2. Her Pretty Face is such a great book, I can’t give it enough praise. I’m so glad it’s school holidays because I couldn’t put it down.
    It’s a story of 2 women with a huge secret from their past, however one womans secret is a million times worse than the others.
    Each chapter is from 1 of 3 characters. I especially enjoyed Djs even though I found his hard to read at times.
    This book kept me guessing and needing to know more. I found the ending satisfying, and now I can get some housework done haha.
    I’m now on the hunt for Robyn’s first novel The Party.
    I’ve already recommended this book to my book lover friends.
    Thank you Beauty & Lace, Simon and Schuster and Robyn Harding for such a great read.

  3. “Her Pretty Face” is a really gripping novel – not quite a thriller, perhaps, but with many of the hallmarks of the genre. I found it difficult to put down and a novel I thought about for some time after finishing it.

    Frances is a stay at home mother struggling with almost every aspect of her life – her difficult son, a marriage which isn’t as fulfilling as it was, her weight, her housework, the other parents at the elite school her son attends. She is grateful when Kate, another parent, offers her attention and validation. Kate seems to have everything in her life completely and utterly under control, and offers Frances something she craves – friendship with one of the “cool parents”.

    Of course nothing is that simple. Both women have dark secrets involving death. But which is the murderer previously known as Amber Kunik? Will one or both secrets destroy their friendship?
    I have to say that I spotted pretty early on which woman was Amber. Although Harding takes a while to explicitly reveal this, I’m not sure she expects readers to be overly surprised when she reaches that point. There is, however, a surprising twist regarding another character which took me completely off guard.

    The greatest strength of this novel – and it’s a really powerful novel, make no mistake about that – is the way it examines how we think about ourselves and how that influences our actions. These are really complex characters, in situations we probably hope we’ll never have to deal with ourselves – but they’re recognisable situations. A lot of the emotional resonance of the novel comes from that recognition.

    This novel is frightening, and sad, and also hopeful and encouraging. It’s well written and easy to read, but it won’t be easily forgotten. Highly recommended for readers who want some complexity in their characters and their subject matter, or who want a gripping domestic thriller.

  4. Her Pretty Face is the second book by author Robyn Harding. The story is told through multiple points off view; stay at home mum Frances, teenage Daisy and the mysterious D.J. Alternating between the past and the present, each character tells their story in the third person, providing clues to the identity of the beautiful Kate.

    Kate appears to have it all…..a wonderful marriage and the perfect children, her daughter Daisy and son, Marcus. When she befriends Frances one day, Frances can’t believe her luck. Overweight and battling her inner demons, Frances believes she’s found a friend who will make her immune to the school yard yummy mummies. Robyn does a fantastic job of showing the competitiveness between these mums that creates a harmful and toxic environment. But looks can be deceiving as Daisy turns to Frances to confide in her.

    Through fourteen year old Daisy, Robyn explores a new world that many parents are ill equipped to protect their children from. From bullying to stalking to alcohol and drugs, Daisy lives the life that every parent fears. At the end of the day though, all Daisy wants is her mother’s love.

    The mysterious DJ recounts the story of the night his teenage sister went missing many years ago and the unimaginable strain the tragedy placed on his family. Robyn doesn’t hold back on the details as she describes the dark world of sexual assault and ultimately murder. At times, it was lot to take in and I had to let myself join the real world once again.

    With contemporary themes, Her Pretty Face is an easy read that will make you hold your children a little tighter and make you question how well you can really know someone.

  5. Fitting in is difficult, and Frances is having difficulties fitting in. She feels awkward in every aspect of her life. Her life becomes brighter when Kate befriends her. Frances can’t believe that someone as bubbly and beautiful as Kate would want to be her friend.
    Kate has two children, Marcus and Daisy and Daisy is struggling with her own issues. Frances thinks that Kate has a perfect family until she sees the indifference Kate has towards her daughter and when Frances rescues Daisy from an awkward situation she starts to see that things are not as perfect as they seem and that Kate is hiding a dark secret.
    Frances also has her own dark secret, and the burden of that secret weigh her down each day.

    A good read which explains the perspectives from three characters and how deep secrets do eventually come to the surface.
    i thought the book read quite easily and was able to finish it fairly quickly. I was disappointment in the ending. it felt like the author took so much time to introduce the characters and then was in a rush to finish it off.

    in saying that, it was a good read and i enjoyed it.

    Thank you to Harper Publishing and Beauty and Lace Book Club for providing the book for me to review

  6. All I can say is wow! What a page turner!! Right from the very first page it sucked me in!

    The story is about the friendship between two women – one who is insecure and lacks confidence and the other who is powerful and confident. I love the way the two women come together and how they rally behind their sons and each other. However, both have dark secrets that could tear them apart and one of them is a murderer!

    I like a good mystery when I’m trying to guess who the murderer is. I like it when you think a book is going in one direction but then suddenly changes to throw you off.

    I enjoyed this so much that I’m now reading Robyn Harding’s “The Party”

    I highly recommend this book. Thank you Beauty & Lace, Simon and Schuster and Robyn Harding for such a great read.

  7. Her Pretty Face is the first book by Robyn Harding that I have read and I really enjoyed it.
    It was so enthralling I couldn’t put it down. I just wanted to find out what was going to happen next It is such an intriguing story and the characters are so interesting and believable.
    Although the genre is suspense thriller and it has all that, it is also about friendships between women, whether people can really change who they are and about the power and control some people can have over others.
    Her Pretty Face is a great read and I would definitely recommend it to others.
    Thank you Beauty and Lace for choosing me to read this book.

  8. I won’t rewrite the synopsis as others have done that for me, but I really liked the characters, they were very believable and convincing. I enjoyed the flow, and how the story line moved between the characters perspective, and through time. I love a good thriller, and this lived up to the hype.

    The only thing I was disappointed in was the last couple of chapters. It just wasn’t as juicy as I wanted it to be. I really wanted a bit more depth to the David character that Daisy was involved in. However, she has left it open for another installment, but I’m not sure I’d rush out to read it.

    Overall, it was thoroughly engaging and absorbing, quite additive and read into the night. Can people change? Do people change? I will continue to ponder.

  9. This book is written in 3 different perspectives & 2 different times – Generally I find this is never done well or you have to pay extreme attention to stay with the stories. (Sometimes books are for relaxing not needing to write notes to keep up.. am I right?!)

    But I’m happy to say, this book did just that. I was a little reluctant to continue reading once I realised to be honest but I’m glad I did.. Read the rest in one sitting!!

    It has friendships, normal & unnormal plus some of the perils of life that you can relate to then the more extreme ones.

    Enjoy the read!!

  10. Her Pretty Face is the first book by Robyn Harding that I have read and I did enjoy it, however I did expect more ‘blood and guts’ after the build up. The characters intertwined and moved along smoothly and one was left pondering just who was who. I found I was right about the identity of ‘Amber Kunik’ but absolutely wrong about the ‘David’ character. The characters were believable and the situations totally possible. The lack of a strong ending rendered it a little bland for my taste….I would really have preferred at least an ‘almost’ murder if not an actual one. However it was a novel that promotes thought about how different types of people tend to interact together…’warts and all’. Thank you to Harper Publishing and Beauty and Lace Book Club for the opportunity to read this book.

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