A Palm Beach Scandal by Susannah Marren (Review by Emma O’Neill)

2 min read

Rating: 4/5

I really enjoyed this story. Surrogacy isn’t a subject I have given much thought to however through the exploration of the two sister’s predicament I found myself questioning what was right and what was wrong and not being able to completely come to a decision, and for this reason I found the novel a compelling read. Furthermore, the author incorporates multiple layers to the story by not only introducing the subject of surrogacy through the two sisters, but also raising questions in regards to their own family, and in this way I feel she does a great job of highlighting the complexities of the subject matter.

I thought the setting of Palm Beach with its constant gossip and ‘cliquey’ atmosphere was a great tool. The notion of appearance vs reality, façade vs truth is constantly at the fore and serves to create a sense of fear and of having to live up to expectations, especially with regards to the character of Elodie. In Elodie we have a very successful woman, yet she is torn apart by personal difficulties and her struggles highlight important questions surrounding what creates fulfilment and happiness. The subject of surrogacy alone would have been an interesting read but I feel the setting of Palm Beach adds to this, giving the novel a darker atmosphere and an added ‘oomph.’

I enjoyed the fact that both sisters were involved in the arts – one with literature and one with music and felt this was a lovely way to highlight the differences between them but also the close relationship the two share. By telling the story from both perspectives, and seeing how those perspectives change (in particular I found it interesting how Aubrey’s view on the pregnancy changed throughout the novel) I found it difficult to decide which sister my sympathies lay more with, which I feel successfully highlights the many grey areas within the subject of surrogacy.

Altogether, a great novel which explores some great themes: family, loyalty, what we will do for each other and what is right to ask of each other.

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