DiscoverWomen's Fiction

What Pretty Gets You


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A raw, riveting, and masterful women's fiction thriller about the beauty and ugliness lurking inside us all.

The husband-nanny affair is a tired trope, and usually the affair is the nucleus of everything. Here, that fact was necessary — but ultimately, not the point at all. There are so many layers and such profound substance; an overabundance of themes all tightly packed into this riveting, nail-biting thriller of a women’s fiction masterpiece.

The prose is eloquent and visceral; a joy to uncover; a treasure revealed.

Maia’s youthful innocence and palpable beauty is tainted by her lack of self-worth, and the trail of casual abuse she encounters: the price for beauty, and her desperation to be more…

Please let me be a part of this. Please tell me I’m good at something that has nothing to do with my outsides.

Carolyn’s suspicion, regret, and guilt permeate her daily life, giving us a firsthand view of lived trauma. The apathetic disregard by others in her life (her well-meaning but manipulative family, her fair-weather friends, and most importantly: her husband) is an emotional gut-punch...

Here is the truth about infidelity: you imagine you want to know, but you don’t, because once you know, everything has to change, and by virtue of knowing, it becomes your job to change it.

Every character is expertly crafted, even the side characters, both good and bad. The effervescent innocence of four-year-old Sasha bursts through, melting your core with its irresistible sweetness; not to mention the sad eyes of the ancient dog, Vader.

There are no saints here — neither party is entirely innocent, nor absolutely guilty. Even the philandering Joel is not portrayed as evil. Like everyone else, he is simply flawed, and at a loss for what to do in this unusual situation, lest he reveal his own transgressions.

As the two women form an intricate bond, the irony is inescapable: each believes the other knows; still, their connection is unique and intangible. Though the reader knows the women’s friendship is doomed from the beginning, there is always that flutter of hope that somehow, someway, via some kernel of universal magic, it can survive that impending collision, the explosion of their lives as the truth inevitably pours out.

The story unfolds with a deep, thought-provoking insight into the bonds of marriage, female friendship, and so much more. It is also an atmospheric tale that transports you to the seedy underbelly of the idyllic life of Boulder, Colorado — past the expensive homes and manicured lives and judgy mommy groups, to an undercurrent of desperation to belong, and become something other than yourself.

This novel was raw, real, gripping, and masterful. Despite its serious themes — death, grief, abuse, infidelity — there remains a billowing sail of levity: a burst-your-sides-laughing moment of hilarity around the corner; a wonderful surprise. This book latches onto your soul and stays with you. I will gladly re-read, and savour every moment again even though I know it’s coming.

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Author, editor (15+ yrs) & avid reader/reviewer of most genres. When I love a book, I LOVE a book. Please share the love and upvote my own novel via: ***Note: Instead of Reedsy tips, you can directly support my Reviews via:***

Chapter One -- Maia

About the author

Chandra's debut novel, "Chosen", was translated into multiple languages. She teaches writing and founded the Summer Writing Retreat at Bryn Athyn College. She enjoys her husband, children, a menagerie of horses, big dogs, cats and free-range chickens. "What Pretty Gets You" is her second novel. view profile

Published on March 15, 2021

Published by Fifth Generation Publishing

90000 words

Contains graphic explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Women's Fiction

Reviewed by