THE UNDERSTUDY By Sophie Hannah, BA Paris,Clare Mackintosh and Holly Brown.



Carolyn, Bronnie, Elise, and Kendall are bound together by one thing – their four daughters are best friends at the highly competitive Orla Flynn Academy for the Performing Arts.

Imogen Curwood is a new girl at the Academy and her behaviour is odd from the start. On the day she arrives, bad things start to happen. As one threatening incident follows another, the four mothers begin to ask themselves: are their girls in danger?

When an attempted murder rocks the school, Imogen is pleased to report that she has an alibi. If she isn’t the guilty party, someone else must be.

Carolyn, Bronnie, Elise and Kendall are determined to uncover the truth and protect their daughters. But are they prepared to risk their own secrets being exposed?


I went into reading this book with really high expectations, especially as I like all of the authors involved and have read books by them all. The writing itself is great, and for saying it was written by four people it flowed seamlessly.

There are so many characters to remember. Four mothers, Carolyn who is a Cambridge Law Professor, with dreams to write musical theatre, Bronnie is a stay at home mum, in charge of costumes and wardrobe,Elise is a driven businesswoman with her own tech company, Kendall is an American Cancer survivor, who is very invested in her daughter. The story is told from the viewpoint of the mothers, and is set out like a ten episode story which is different.

The daughters Jess, Ruby, Bel and Sadie, the girls are friends at times and at other times not. During the previous term Ruby had bullied Jess, and Carolyn her mother, didn’t feel it had been addressed properly, this raises tension between those mothers. Both believing their daughters can do no wrong. Or that’s the impression I got.

The girls are all attending a performing arts school in London. Jess has been left a music box in her locker, that plays her audition song but the ballerina has been messed with, so Carolyn thinks that Ruby is behind it because of the previous bullying. The headmaster, Adam Racki gets drawn into it, and tries to keep the mothers tempers in check, informing them that there is a new girl starting, I’m not sure how this is supposed to make things better, but he suggests the girls can take her under their wings and help her learn the ropes as such, as she has no mother fighting her corner. He seems to think this will bring the girls closer.

Imogen Curwood arrives and she is a proper drama queen, so is probably in the right place, a drama school! It’s then that weird and terrifying things begin to happen, and of course the only new thing there is Imogen so the parents and girls initially suspect that these things are all down to her. Then Ruby becomes the main suspect, until Ruby becomes the victim of the attacks. Next thing the mothers all attack each other’s daughters, and even at one stage each other. But could it be there is something or someone that they are missing? Someone they wouldn’t even think of pointing the finger at?

I found this book was so slow to begin with, and yes there is drama and things going on, but it just didn’t work for me. I didn’t like any of the characters at all. There was a fair bit of repetition, as well as information that I really felt wasn’t needed. Parts of it was just a little boring, then you would have a bit that pulled you in, but then you were bored again. There was no wow effect to this at all, no big surprise at the end. It does have some twists and turns in it. But for me I personally just didn’t enjoy it. I will re-iterate that I can’t fault the writing, the plot was there but I just expected a bit more.

I give this book 3 stars out of 5.

This book is available to purchase as a paperback, ebook and audiobook as from the 3rd October 2019

I would like to thank netgalley and Hodder Paperbacks for letting me have an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest, fair and unbiased review.


This book is written by four successful authors who have each written and sold millions of books worldwide. It is written by: B A Paris, Clare Mackintosh, Holly Brown and Sophie Hannah.

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