Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Little Lovely Things

Rate this book
A mother's chance decision leads to a twist of fate that is every parent's worst nightmare.

Claire Rawlings, mother of two and medical resident, will not let the troubling signs of an allergic reaction prevent her from making it in for rounds. But when Claire's symptoms overpower her while she's driving into work, her two children in tow, she must pull over. Moments later she wakes up on the floor of a gas station bathroom-her car, and her precious girls have vanished.

The police have no leads and the weight of guilt presses down on Claire as each hour passes with no trace of her girls. All she has to hold on to are her strained marriage, a potentially unreliable witness who emerges days later, and the desperate but unquenchable belief that her daughters are out there somewhere.

Little Lovely Things is the story of a family shattered by an unthinkable tragedy. Played out in multiple narrative voices, the novel explores how the lives of those affected fatefully intersect, and highlights the potential catastrophe of the small decisions we make every day.

289 pages, Paperback

First published April 2, 2019

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

I'm a former owner of a consulting firm that helped specialty drug companies to develop medications for ultra-rare diseases. My background in science and love of the natural world informs and inspires my writing. LITTLE LOVELY THINGS is my debut as a novelist, and it is currently on Sale in e-book format!

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
853 (27%)
4 stars
1,252 (40%)
3 stars
760 (24%)
2 stars
184 (5%)
1 star
39 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 660 reviews
Profile Image for Maureen .
1,446 reviews7,062 followers
February 24, 2019
*4.5 STARS *

“But nothing makes a room feel emptier than wanting someone in it.”
― Calla Quinn, All the Time

If ever a book was meant to touch the very depths of your soul, then this is it right here!

Claire Rawlings is taken ill whilst driving - so ill, that she fears she’ll pass out, and has no choice but to pull into the nearest gas station. Her daughters, 15 month old Lily, and 4 year old Andrea are asleep in the back of the car, but Claire has to leave them where they are, such is her desperation to reach the bathroom. Medical resident Claire is unaware that she’s picked up a really nasty bug, and, (just as she feared) she passes out. When she comes to, the car has gone and her children too!

Eventually a Native American drifter by the name of Jay White provides the police with some crucial evidence - this is a man gifted with extra sensory perception, but I won’t give anything away other than that. To disclose more of the plot would be a great disservice to the taut storyline.

Needless to say, this places an impossible strain on Claire’s marriage to Glen. Claire knows he must blame her for leaving their daughters in the car, he doesn’t come right out and say it - but it’s there all the same, festering away.

This may be Maureen Connelly’s debut novel, but it slots her nicely into the psychological thriller must reads. Like a seamstress she weaves a picture of an ordinary family stressing over the mundane things that affect families the world over, until in one heart stopping moment, that family becomes just 2 broken people - and the sparse clarity of it, just breaks your heart. It’s a gripping read, which I could have probably finished sooner, however, pause was needed to draw breath and process the sudden reveals, some of which hit like a sledgehammer.

I thought the inclusion of Jay’s Native American folklore, added interest and mystery and took it to another level. I believe many established authors would have been proud to have written this one!

*My thanks to Netgalley and Sourcebook Landmark for my ARC. I have given an honest unbiased review in exchange *
Profile Image for Peter.
472 reviews2,556 followers
April 1, 2019
Little Lovely Things is a remarkable debut novel from Maureen Joyce Connolly that is enthralling, enigmatic, heart-breaking and full of dark suspense. We anxiously encounter the nightmare every parent dreads. SOMEONE STOLE MY CHILDREN! The story fully engages our emotions and pulls us erratically between hope and despair.

Claire was suffering a dreadful reaction after taking a double vaccine dose, and while driving with her 2 children pulls into a garage where she is violently sick in the toilet and passes out. When she awakens, her car with her 2 daughters, Lily and Andrea, are gone. The anguish and turmoil experienced by Claire and how she manages alongside her husband is heartfelt and beautifully crafted. The undercurrents of guilt and blame are subtly drawn and Maureen explores how their relationship is put under strain with such clever, emotional and concealed forces. In her mind, she wonders why he won't blame her for losing the children, because that's what she's doing. The development of this emotional torment is superbly written and addressed really well.

Jay is a Native American who has an extrasensory insight about certain events and has been attracted to particular circumstances. Somehow he found himself intuitively driving along a deserted track and he finds clues of the children that drags him into the story and a connection with Claire that is ultimately a lifeline for all involved.

The background and relationship between Moira and Eamon, who kidnapped the children, is also very unique and again the multiple character layers are so wonderfully crafted. Both are Irish travellers with a unique outlook and approach to life and it's their disreputable lifestyle that underpins the destructive motivation in this story. Moira, in particular, is a multi-faceted character and her irrational connection to the girls shapes many of the decisions she makes.

Maureen develops fascinating complex characters and their interactions are wonderfully portrayed and not always obvious. This brings about a tense, intriguing and captivating power to the novel where we can experience the different dynamics between the two couples and sympathise, at times, with the criminal elements, and become frustrated with the victims.

Maureen uses a very descriptive writing style and initially, it is wonderful to appreciate the imaginative ways of describing the settings or reactions between characters, however, after a while, I felt it started to intrude into the flow of telling the story. This is a personal point-of-view as it’s a fine line between over-describing and maintain the focus of a thriller.

The pace of the story is steady for the majority of the book, and that enables the sense of a bubbling precarious theme that eventually ramps up towards a climactic end. While the main story concept is not new, it does, however, introduce unique perspectives, plot elements and characters that I thoroughly enjoyed. The psychological elements seem very well researched and were very interesting.

I highly recommend this book and I wish to thank Maureen Joyce Connolly and NetGalley for an ARC version of the book in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Norma.
551 reviews12.7k followers
March 12, 2020
Heart-wrenching, authentic, & compelling!

LITTLE LOVELY THINGS by MAUREEN JOYCE CONNOLLY is a steadily-paced, gripping, dramatic, raw, enigmatic, and dark suspenseful psychological thriller that deeply affected me. This heartbreaking story totally consumed my thoughts and my heart. I was fully engaged right from the very start and my mind didn’t even waver once while I was reading this book.

MAUREEN JOYCE CONNOLLY delivers an intense, well-crafted, believable, and beautifully written story here with absolutely fascinating, complex, and well-portrayed characters. I am not normally a fan of an overly descriptive writing style but I thought the descriptions here were absolutely beautiful and something to savour. Initially though I’d say that I did need to get into the flow of the narrative though and once I did it totally settled down for me and I was able to be fully absorbed in this story.

I absolutely loved Jay’s character and thought that the addition of his Native American folklore was fascinating and added in this extra layer of intrigue and mystery to the storyline.

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: A relevant, fitting, effective, palpable, and intriguingly obscure representation to storyline.
Title: Intriguing, palpable, worrisome, obscure, and a fantastic representation to storyline.
Writing/Prose: Well-written, gripping, descriptive, beautiful, and suspenseful.
Plot: Tragic, mysterious, suspenseful, believable, obscure, entertaining, captivating, intense, dark, distressing, emotional, and steadily-paced.
Ending: An unforgettable, hopeful, moving, emotional, and satisfying end that absolutely wrecked me and left me in a blubbering mess!
Overall: Such a tragic but yet hopeful story! I highly recommend it!

Thank you so much to Maureen Joyce Connolly for my gifted and inscribed copy.

This review can also be seen at Traveling Sisters Book Reviews blog:
Profile Image for Beata.
756 reviews1,158 followers
July 24, 2019
LITTLE LOVELY THINGS is a splendid debut by Ms Connolly, full of suspense and emotions, all compressed in a novel that is not 300-page long. Claire Rawlings is a happily married mother of two, with interesting career prospects, when suddenly a tragedy strikes. Due to some most unfortunate circumstances, Claire’s two little daughters, Lily and Andrea, are kidnapped. What happens next is a most heart-breaking story of the girls’ fate and attempts to find them. The plot is told through eyes of several characters: parents, children, abductors, and a Native American, and it spans over several years. I admit it was an unputdownable read for me as each chapter is compelling and charged with emotions. The most amazing thing about this novel for me as a reader was the feeling that while reading I actually related to Claire, Jay and the girls, which surprised me as usually my heart does not go to more than one character … I felt for Claire as a mother during her trauma, I loved Andrea’s intelligence and imagination, and I found Jay White, the Native American, a most charming person who brings good spirit to the novel. LITTLE LOVELY THINGS is definitely a novel that will stay with me long ….
*Special thank-you to Maureen Joyce Connolly for the signed copy of this book, together with a lovely charm and card. I looking forward to reading more of your novels in future, Maureen!*

Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,129 reviews3,710 followers
March 22, 2019
Claire Rawlings makes a last minute decision... one that just might cost her everything! On her way into work with her two daughters safely in the backseat, a rush of nausea overtakes her and she feels as though she may vomit. An allergic reaction? Whatever the case, she must stop the car NOW!
Taking the next exit, Claire makes a mad dash into a bathroom behind a local gas station. Rushing into the restroom, she passes out. When she comes to her car is gone. Along with her two beautiful daughters!

How do you carry on? How do you possibly move forward? The grief, the unanswered questions, and most of all...the overwhelming guilt.

There’s a taste of Native American folklore interspersed throughout from Jay, the one possible witness to the abduction. In fact, that was my favorite part of the book and hoped for even more from his character.

Maureen Joyce Connolly writes a gripping debut thriller. The characters were all well developed, and the story-line flowed easily. I will definitely be searching out her next release.

A buddy read with Susanne!🌸

Thank you to NetGalley, Sourcebooks Landmark and Maureen Joyce Connolly for an ARC to read and review.
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,184 reviews30.5k followers
February 27, 2019
Claire Rawlings is a busy mom of two. She’s also a medical resident and finds herself in the throes of an allergic reaction as she’s driving her daughters to work with her. She wakes up in a gas station bathroom, and her girls are gone.

The tension mounts as the police have no suspects or any direction to go in, while the hours pass by without Claire’s daughters being found. Claire’s marriage is an unhappy one, so she has little social support to help her in this ordeal. A witness comes to light days later but may not be telling the truth.

Small decisions can have huge impacts on us, and this book definitely gets that point across well. We hear from multiple narrators, which adds so much insight into this dilemma and to what life was like for Claire. The characters are richly developed and enjoyable, and this book is definitely a fresh take on the missing child plot.

Overall, Little Lovely Things is an original, well-paced, well-plotted story, which kept me on the edge of my seat with tension and wonder.

I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
Profile Image for Berit Talks Books.
2,024 reviews15.7k followers
March 10, 2019
A compelling and addictive story that will keep you glued to those pages all night long!

Maureen Joyce Connelly has crafted a compulsive story. Perfectly paced, vividly told, and emotionally charged, this is one remarkable debut! A book that will make you think about every Little thing you do, and how it could possibly alter the course of your life.

Claire is the mother of two and a medical intern. One day Claire is suffering from what she believes is an allergic reaction, on her way to work with the kids in the car she feels as though she’s going to pass out so she pulls over to a gas station. Frantic to get to The bathroom she leaves the girls in the car where she believe they are safe. However, when she comes back she finds the car and the girls missing. One little innocent decision and Claire is living every parents worst nightmare. How will Claire’s already rocky marriage survive? Who took the girls? And why? And will Claire ever see them again?

A gut wrenching story taut with tension. A book about how Claire and husband Glenn dealt with the aftermath of this tragedy. How they tried to puzzle the pieces of their lives back together again. The story is told from multiple perspectives giving you a vivid and insightful look at the events as they unfold. All the characters were extremely well drawn. You could really feel Claire and Glenn’s pain seeping through the pages, and you could not help but completely sympathize with them. There are several other very colorful quirky characters in this story that I think added that little extra something something to this book. There are many missing children stories out there, but this one was a little unique and very cleverly crafted. Absolutely recommend!

*** A big thank you to Source Books for my copy of this book ***
December 22, 2018
Claire Rawlings is feeling feverish and worried she might pass out while driving to her medical residency. She is forced to pull over at a gas station while her two young daughters sleep in the car. In her weakened state, she runs to the bathroom while leaving her girls in the car. After passing out, she awakens to find her car and children are missing.

Claire along with her husband, Glenn, struggle with the hope of seeing their daughters again. Their future together dissolves into coping with the heavy guilt which strains their marriage. They live with the difficulty of not knowing what happened to their children and do their best to move forward.

This debut novel by Maureen Joyce Connolly was hard to put down as it moves through the emotions of a mother’s worst nightmare. ”Lovely Little Things” is a well-crafted novel which draws on many points of view to build the story. I look forward to more books by this author.
Profile Image for Deanna .
691 reviews12.5k followers
September 2, 2019
My reviews can also be seen at: https://deesradreadsandreviews.wordpr...

3.5 Stars!!

A parent’s worst nightmare….

Claire Rawlings, a medical resident, and mother of two is driving when she suddenly feels very sick. She needs to pull over, but her daughters are sleeping in the back seat. She finally sees a place to stop. She runs inside the bathroom where she gets violently ill then passes out. When she wakes up, her car and her little girls are gone.

Moira and her boyfriend, Eamon are heading towards the gas station to wash up. Life on the streets hasn’t been easy for Moira, but she is thankful that she has Eamon. She'd be lost without him and his street smarts. She just wishes he’d hold his temper and keep his promises.

Suddenly a car comes out of nowhere and almost hits Eamon. They see the same car at the gas station. They watch as a woman runs inside the bathroom. They creep up to the car and see a little girl asleep inside. Eamon tells Moira to head back to where they are staying, but he won’t say why. Moira realizes he’s probably going to steal the car. But what about the child?

Soon enough, Eamon pulls up next to Moira in the stolen station wagon. But when she looks inside she sees the little girl is still there. Actually, she sees two little girls.

What happens next will change Moira’s life forever. It will change Claire and her little girls. It will change everyone.

The beginning of this novel was intense and I was pulled in to the story immediately. Imagine being sick and needing the bathroom, but you have your two young children in the car with you. What do you do?

This was quite an emotional read that I read it in just a few hours. I was anxious to get to the end to see how everything worked out. There were a few scenes that really evoked strong feelings in me, and one or two scenes that I had to skip altogether. The story has a lot going on and was quite suspenseful, but I thought the ending was a bit abrupt. I wanted to know more.

Although I had some mixed feelings, overall I thought this was a good debut novel. It was very different from other missing children stories.

A heartbreaking, devastating, and unique domestic drama.

I'd like to thank Sourcebooks Landmark and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this novel. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Meredith B.  (readingwithmere).
238 reviews163 followers
February 25, 2019
4 stars!

Learn from flowers-always angle towards the sun

Claire is a mother of two girls - Lily and Andrea - and one day she has an allergic reaction. However, she decides to ignore this and starts to drive the girls so she can go off to work. She feels so ill that she eventually has to pull over and stop at a rest stop. She gets out of the car, leaves it running and thinks the girls are perfectly safe. However, once she comes back they are gone. Vanished. Is this a bad dream??

Claire and her husband start to investigate with local authorities until one day a man name Jay discovers something horrific. Unfortunately this doesn't help with any potential leads they have. Claire cannot sleep, eat, etc. and her marriage is definitely put to the test. I think this raises the question of Could you stick together with your partner/spouse if the unthinkable has happened?. It's raw, real and emotional.

This was my first book by Maureen Joyce Connolly and I believe this is her debut! I loved the emotions that this book brought out in me. I am always a little worried with family dramas that the emotions may be a bit sugar coated but I feel the author did a great job of being super honest and real when it came to what the parents, children and other characters in this story were going through respectively.

This book comes out on April 2, 2019 and if you enjoy some family drama and also suspense I would suggest this one! Thank you to SuzyApprovedBookTours, Sourcebooks and Maureen Joyce Connolly for my copy of this book!
Profile Image for Theresa Alan.
Author 10 books1,044 followers
February 13, 2019
Claire gets incredibly ill while driving to work with her four-year-old daughter and baby daughter in the back seat. Dizzy, she pulls into a gas station, and staggers in a blurry haze to the bathroom. When she comes back out, her car and daughters are gone.

I’ve read a couple stories of children going missing. This one was different. Odd, actually, because of some of the perspectives the story is told from. I tend to not like extreme coincidences in books, but somehow, in the end, it all worked.

Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for the opportunity to review this novel, which RELEASES APRIL 2, 2019.

For more reviews, please visit http://www.theresaalan.net/blog
Profile Image for Luvtoread.
512 reviews300 followers
August 14, 2019
This novel is beautifully written and at the same time riveting and heartbreaking!

Claire and Glen have a wonderful marriage with two beautiful daughters, Lily, who is fifteen months old and Andrea, who is 4 years of age. Claire has been studying to be a radiology physician and is almost near graduating and Glen is a teacher at a nearby school. All the med students and staff at the hospital must have vaccines, so shortly after getting her shot, Claire seems to be coming down with a cold or just exhaustion from work overload so she tries to dismiss her feelings of unwellness. Driving the children to daycare on the way to work, Claire suddenly feels very ill and must pull over at the first gas station that has a restroom. Claire barely makes it out of the car and the children are sleeping so she leaves the restroom door propped open so she can watch the car and the girls and then unthinkable will happen and change many lives in just a moment in time.

This book was a standout for me. Maureen Joyce Connolly has done a wonderful job in creating a story that was so compelling to read and also beautifully written. The characters were very believable and well thought out and I could feel all of their emotions which was very difficult at times. I also enjoyed that the writer gave such interesting background information on a few of the characters and their stories were tastefully approached. I was so impressed that this was the author's first novel and I look forward to reading more, since I can't say enough about what a wonderful writer and story-teller Ms. Connolly is.

I want to thank Netgally and the publisher for the opportunity of reading this book!

I highly recommend "Little Lovely Things" and have given a rating of 5 Emotional 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 stars!!
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,168 reviews37.3k followers
March 3, 2019
3.5 Stars* (rounded down)

Heartbreak & Tragedy.

Claire Rawlings has her two young daughters, Andrea and Lily in the car with her when she is overcome by illness. An allergic reaction. She stops at a gas station, delirious. She runs to the bathroom and unawares, she passes out. When she comes to, her car and her children are gone. Claire and Glen never recover.

There is guilt for having left her children alone and for not doing enough and then there is guilt for having deserted each other at their time of need. For not being able to grieve. It is never enough.

Jay White is a Native American who has the gift of sight. He feels and sees things that happened to the Rawlings girls that day - though the police do not believe him. Claire, however, always has. He is a big-hearted, kind, lovable guy who always has everyone’s best interests at heart.

“Lovely Little Things” is a well written, fast-paced domestic drama that kept me entranced by its mystery. It is a story involving Native Indian Folklore (which I loved) and Irish Travelling Gypsies - who had a (secret) language all their own, which I had a hard time understanding and which, unfortunately took away from my enjoyment of the story. While I really liked this novel, I also felt that the ending was a little abrupt and would have liked a little more, even though the ending was expected. That being said, I highly recommend this for those who like domestic dramas and mystery / suspense novels.

Thank you to NetGalley, Source Landmark and Maureen Joyce Connelly for an arc of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Published on NetGalley and Goodreads on 3.3.19.
*Will be published on Twitter on
February 27, 2020
Sometimes we make choices, and sometimes life chooses for us, and we are left to pick up the pieces. Little Lovely Things explores a bit of both here while exploring grief, loss and guilt after a devastation twist of fate shatter a family. It is a beautiful and insightful story that is devasting yet hopeful. Claire’s chance decision that left her family shattered had me thinking about how sometimes life throws us the unthinkable and what we do with that creates the story we must live.

As lovely and lyrical the writing it, I did find it distracting from connecting to the story on more of the emotional level I wanted. However, this is a personal thing as a reader and I still highly recommend this one.


I received a copy from the author
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,157 followers
March 15, 2019
4+ Stars.

Very Well Done Debut! And another new author to keep on my radar.

Most of us have probably read stories, both fiction and non-fiction involving child abduction, but LITTLE LOVELY THINGS has one unsettling, gut-wrenching part, in particular, that will stay with me for a long time that occurs after a mother's violent illness and frightening decision.

What you'll find here is a compelling read about a struggling, loving family with two adorable children and great prospects for the future, a dog nicknamed G you will come to love, a mysterious, gifted man with a troubled past, an old, clever psychiatrist....and two brainless, desperate young adults you are guaranteed to abhor who make the worst decisions.

Don't miss LITTLE LOVELY THINGS, a painfully tragic, but hopeful story.

***Arc provided by SOURCEBOOKS Landmark in exchange for an honest review***

Profile Image for Mackenzie - PhDiva Books.
478 reviews14.4k followers
February 16, 2019
In Maureen Joyce Connolly’s debut novel, Little Lovely Things, every parent’s worst nightmare plays out as two parent’s search for information about their young daughters who’ve gone missing. With a rawness that makes the story authentic and emotional, Connolly still manages to add lightness and hope to a difficult subject matter.

About the Book

A mother’s chance decision leads to a twist of fate that is every parent’s worst nightmare.

Claire Rawlings, mother of two and medical resident, will not let the troubling signs of an allergic reaction prevent her from making it in for rounds. But when Claire's symptoms overpower her while she's driving into work, her two children in tow, she must pull over. Moments later she wakes up on the floor of a gas station bathroom-her car, and her precious girls have vanished.

The police have no leads and the weight of guilt presses down on Claire as each hour passes with no trace of her girls. All she has to hold on to are her strained marriage, a potentially unreliable witness who emerges days later, and the desperate but unquenchable belief that her daughters are out there somewhere.

Little Lovely Things is the story of a family shattered by an unthinkable tragedy. Played out in multiple narrative voices, the novel explores how the lives of those affected fatefully intersect, and highlights the potential catastrophe of the small decisions we make every day.


The opening sequence to this novel is so compelling and well-written. With the way Connolly writes descriptively, I could almost feel the symptoms Claire is experiencing during her allergic reaction—an important scene, because it is the catalyst to her girls being taken. It was such a vivid and terrifying scene to read, and it really set the novel off with a bang.

In fact, the novel moves surprisingly quickly! Often domestic dramas feel somewhat slow, because they tend to be character-driven rather than action-driven. This novel somehow manages to have extremely well-developed characters, as well as a fast-paced, unputdownable plot. Truly a unique mix for the genre, and one that I immensely enjoyed! It felt like I flew through this book!

There were moments in this book that caused me to tear up. I’m not a parent myself, but the thought of wondering if your children are safe, and not knowing what happened—that resonated with me. At the same time, the book manages to have hope weaving throughout. Even in the lowest moments for Claire, I was able to see the potential for happiness.

I was so saddened but touched by the way this event impacts not only Claire and Glen as parents, but also as partners in life. It is such a sad statistic that the loss of a child often causes a rift between the parents, as they each grieve in different ways. There’s no resentment in the book, but there is the sense that these two people who know one another so well, don’t know how to hold the burden of the other’s grief when they haven’t figured out how to cope with their own.

With a beautiful, emotional story and outstanding characters, this one should be on your 2019 list!
Many thanks to Suzy at Suzy’s Approved Book Tours for my copy to review, and including me in the tour.
Profile Image for Carolyn (on vacation).
2,249 reviews643 followers
March 17, 2019
In 1991 Claire Rawlings is a busy but happy wife and mother of two beautiful little girls, four year old Andrea and toddler Lily. Studying to complete year last year of Medicine, her marriage is financially and emotionally strained but soon she'll be a fully qualified doctor and her family life should become more relaxed. But that all changes in an instant when she experiences every mother's worst nightmare. Driving the girls to day care one morning while suffering an allergic reaction to a vaccination, she feels horribly unwell, she pulls off the road outside a service station restroom. Leaving the girls asleep in the car with the aircon running, she throws up in the restroom and briefly passes out. When she comes to and staggers outside, her car and children have gone.

This is a heart wrenching story as Claire and her husband Glen struggle to cope with the enormity of what has happened to them. Their marriage struggles even more as Claire bears the brunt of her guilt and Glen's blame for leaving the girls alone in her car. As no one saw the abduction, there are few clues for the police to work with, except for a report of a shadowy homeless man who has now vanished. While this might sound like another 'missing children' story, the fate of the girls is far from usual.

This is a well written debut novel with the grief and distress of the parents coping with this nightmare making for an emotional read. The other main characters, including a young Sioux man, an elderly psychiatrist and a young girl are also well drawn and it is easy to connect with them and their different worlds.

With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher Sourcebooks Landmark for a digital ARC to read
Profile Image for Mary.
1,569 reviews507 followers
May 2, 2019
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

Little Lovely Things by Maureen Joyce Connolly is a gripping debut novel about the choices we make that will be sure to move you to tears.

What it's about: Claire Rawlings seems like superwoman, a mother of 2 little girls she is also juggling a husband and a medical residency and seems to be holding everything together perfectly. But this illusion will completely shatter one day when she has a bad allergic reaction and her daughters get kidnapped while she is in the bathroom at a gas station. Told in multiple viewpoints, this is the story of a family torn apart after a tragedy and how everyone copes with the guilt.

Little Lovely Things is definitely a book that is going to pull at your heart strings. There isn't a mystery here, but a story of loss, guilt, and how one family deals with a tragedy. I can't even tell it is a debut novel, that is how moved I was by Connolly's writing. The flow was perfect, and she seems to really be able to portray how an actual family would deal with a kidnapping and the aftermath.

The book is short at just over 300 pages but it really packs a wallop. I found myself tearing up at different points, and I felt very connected to the family and what they were going through. I have never been through a kidnapping (thank god), but the characters all made choices I could see happening in real life. I think this would be a great choice for lovers of women's fiction, literary fiction, and novels that talk about the bonds of family.

Final Thought: For some reason I was expecting a bit of a mystery (even though the synopsis obviously doesn't make it sound like there is one), but that is not what you will get. You know who took the girls and why, but Little Lovely Things really explores the choices we make and the consequences it can have on people around you. It is a novel that will definitely make you think, and I highly recommend it. I can't wait to see what Connolly's talented writing will hit us with next!

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an advance review copy of this book!
Profile Image for Stephanie .
494 reviews94 followers
April 2, 2019
4.5 Stars

Little Lovely Things is an excellent, compelling debut by Maureen Joyce Connolly. It's a must read that grabs your attention from the beginning of the novel and never ends as Connolly writes with such vivid, eloquent prose! 

Medical resident Claire Rawlings is on her way to work with her two young girls, Andrea and Lily, in her car when she's suddenly so sick from an allergic reaction. The dizziness, weakness, and nausea are so overwhelming that she must pull over at a gas station, so she can frantically get to the bathroom—leaving her sleeping girls in her running car. She passes out and when she wakes, her car and her daughters are missing. This is only the start of a horrendous nightmare for her and her husband Glen, whose lives are shattered by the girl's disappearances.

Connolly did an outstanding job with the plot of her nove—I've read a couple of other books recently with child disappearance as the main plot, but Connolly writes it in such an original way. I thoroughly enjoyed how she gave the storyline a hint of mysticism and touch of folklore with the addition of a character from the Sioux Native American tribe and characters from the Irish Travellers clan. I thought this added a lot to the originality of the plot, characters, and settings.

Little Lovely Things is a heart-wrenching story that as a mother especially pulled at my emotions and left me in tears throughout. Although the novel is taut with tension and full of suspense throughout, this is also an emotionally evocative book! Connolly is an astoundingly astute writer and whether you are a parent are not, this affecting and heartbreaking novel will make you feel all the emotions experienced by every one of the characters, whether those feelings are guilt, loss, grief, hopelessness, faith, hope, forgiveness, and love. 

I was so impressed this was a debut because Connolly writes like a much more established author. This really is an outstanding debut, and I can't wait to read what she writes next! I highly, highly recommend it!

**Thank you Netgalley, Sourcebooks Landmark, and Maureen Joyce Connolly for the ARC in exchange for my fair and honest review.**
Profile Image for Selena.
493 reviews313 followers
March 29, 2019
I received a free e-copy of Little Lovely Things by Maureen Joyce Connolly from NetGalley for my honest review.

A beautifully written yet gripping and emotional read. Claire Rawlings and her husband Glen, have two young daughters, Lily and Andrea. Claire becomes violently ill, while driving with the girls in the car and has to pull over into a gas station. She leaves the girls, sleeping in the car and keeps the bathroom door open so she can see them. Unfortunately, she passes out and when she wakes up, her car and her children are gone.

The police can't locate the girls and the only witness that has come forward is lying. A powerful and heart-wrenching story told from multiple perspectives, which is fascinating as you find yourself emotionally engulfed in each person's story. (guilt, shame, hope, anger, hate, love, and sheer panic)

You will have memories of this book etched in your mind long after reading it. Although, horribly sad, it is so beautifully and powerfully written it will catch your breath.

Profile Image for Margitte.
1,178 reviews532 followers
February 26, 2020
This gripping, psychological suspense drama started off with a perfect bang:
When Claire Rawlings thought of her family, it was more with the mind of a geologist than a physician—the sweeping drumlin of Andrea’s collarbone, the narrow plain of Lily’s sternum, the sculpted features of Glen’s face. Her dreams, too, were crowded with images of rocks and continents gliding, meeting at ragged seams, and then drifting apart.
The drama immediately introduced the reader to Claire's foggy and frenetic, almost clairvoyant, dream, that would remain part of the living nightmare she would soon encounter.

They were the perfect little family: Claire, the residency doctor, almost finished with her training; Glen, her good-hearted, hardworking teacher husband, and her biggest emotional, as well as financial supporter; four-year-old Andrea; fifteen-month-old Lily; their boxer mix Gretchie and the noisy parakeet, Butkus.

The blurb states: Little Lovely Things is the story of a family shattered by an unthinkable tragedy. Played out in multiple narrative voices, the novel explores how the lives of those affected fatefully intersect, and highlights the potential catastrophe of the small decisions we make every day.

I could relate in a way to the events, since our oldest son disappeared when he was five years old, and for a day I lost my sanity completely. As we walked along the very busy highway, strangers and neighbors of my sister's stopped and asked what we were looking for, left their vehicles and start searching with us. It soon became a crowd of people meandering into the long autumn grass along the road, calling his name. I heard the police and their dogs squad rushing off into different directions (in our country the search starts immediately, no waiting period). It was getting dark after an exhausting day for everyone, when the police said that it was too late to get the helicopters in, but will expand the search the next day at sunrise. I was out of my mind. In the end it was my sister and I, with her at the steering wheel, and she 'climbing into a five year old's mind, following his logic', that would find him, right when the sun was finally disappearing over the horizon. He had turned off on a side road on his nephew's small bicycle, and found a farm house with a swing, where he quietly sat. The owners said he refused to talk to them, gave his name, or enter their home, since his mom said he should not talk to strangers. And his mom will come get him. About twelve miles away from my sister's farm. The farmer had just called the police when we arrived there. Nobody expected that a young boy would venture so far off on such a small bicycle! But my sister did. She chose the correct side road to turn off. Unbelievable.

When we arrived at my sister's farm house, all the people were there. Everybody cried, including the commander of the Police's Murder and Robbery squad.

This is the reason why I allowed this story to mess with my emotions. We were the lucky ones. The Rawlings family in this novel was not. Truth is, the circumstances around the disappearance of a child can mess up everybody. I still cry when I think about that day, and this is many years later.

The author brought in some captivating elements, such as the Native American drifter, named Jay White, and the Irish gypsy woman, called Moira Kelly (with her side-kick Eamon O'Neill. Claire, Jay and Moira are the main protagonists who will keep the reader glued to the plot. There's another protagonist, which I cannot mention for fear of spoiling the plot.

It's a heartbreaking, emotional story, very well plotted and told. Atmospheric and gripping.

The reason why I do not rate this novel five stars: I am a family-orientated, marriage advocate. The husband, Glen, totally and deliberately disappeared from the story, became a perpheral character, when he should have been one of the main protagonists, if this novel valued family as important. He was a good man, and went through the same hell as his wife, yet deserved no attention. The focus was on Claire alone. A big no-no for me.

Nevertheless, he featured in the ending and that's so okay with me. Four stars it will be. If he did not, this novel would have been a three star, or even two star, read. Period.

To be fair: the ending was left to the reader's imagination. That is okay, really. In my imagination I will take the story back to where it began. A happy family. I'm an optimist. :-)

Nowadays, marriage is kind of a no-go-zone in the feminist creed. The plot is about good women and lesser men: all the men are nice, useful, but either disabled, lower class, or below par. Skillfully done. Always. The blueprint.

Congratulations to the author with this debut novel! So imaginative and well-crafted!
Profile Image for NZLisaM.
414 reviews414 followers
April 21, 2019
What did I miss?


I felt like I read a completely different book to everyone else? I connected with little of this novel – too spiritual, philosophical and superstitious for my taste, not to mention overly long, with a lot of filler.

Driving to work with her two young daughter's, Claire Rawlings is overwhelmed by an allergic reaction so severe that she is forced to pull into a gas station in a bad neighbourhood. Nauseous and disorientated she makes a split second decision that will alter the course of her life forever – rushing to the bathroom, she leaves her children in the car with the engine running, and then passes out. When she comes to, her car, with her daughter's inside, is gone. It's every parent's worse nightmare.

Sounds amazing right? And things started well – Claire's increasing anxiety, vulnerability, and panic as she was overcome by her symptoms was realistic and understandable. The initial chapters following the abduction both from Claire's, Moira's (one of the abductors), and Andrea's (Claire's eldest daughter) POV's was tense, dramatic, and emotional. Unfortunately from there things slowed to a crawl, with never-ending irrelevant chapters. On the home stretch the paced picked up, then just as I was getting back into it, the book abruptly ended. Claire's husband, Glen, was a one dimensional character with few scenes, and little dialogue. I was expecting more conflict and confrontation between the two characters surrounding the circumstances that led to their children being taken.

I have no idea why the Irish Travelling Gypsy kidnappers communicated in a weird, nonsensical language? With few translations given, I couldn’t interpret what they were saying half the time, and ended up skipping over those parts. It's no fun reading gibberish!

Some fleeting good moments, but unfortunately not enough to entice me to read another book by this author. With so many 4 and 5 star ratings I encourage you to check out other people's reviews because I'm definitely in the minority on this one.

I'd like to thank Netgalley, Sourcebooks Landmark, and Maureen Joyce Connolly for the e-ARC.

Available now!
Profile Image for Kimberly Dawn.
163 reviews
August 22, 2019
One of my top favorites this year! A must read!

Little Lovely Things begins with Claire, the main character, waking up sick. Claire is a mother of two, wife, and a medical resident, soon to be a physician. As Claire sets off for work with her two girls in tow, her condition soon worsens, and she must stop the car to get to a restroom. It is when she passes out in the restroom that her car is stolen and her girls are abducted.

This book grabbed my full attention right from the start. I read the book from start to finish in one setting. The writing is emotionally charged and intense. I experienced feelings that ran the gamut from the depths of despair to the welcome stirrings of hope.

The weakened predicament in which Claire, the mother found herself in during the events which led up to the abduction, sounded entirely realistic and it seems to me, all too possible. What happens to Claire is seriously something for all of us to consider: What is a better course of action to take in order to ensure the safety of our children, if we find ourselves in a similar situation?

The author explores themes of loss, motherhood, marriage, career aspirations, parenthood, and family. Husband and father, wife and mother; the abduction takes its toll on both parents/spouses. Their marriage is strong, but it nonetheless suffers. Will it survive this trauma?

An interesting male character by the name of Jay White, a Native American drifter, proves to play a key role. This flawed yet caring character brings a ray of hope to the story.

A talented author, Maureen Joyce Connolly has written a brilliant debut novel on a despicable crime and its aftermath. With its believable, fast-paced writing, this is a novel you will not soon forget.

If you have not read the book yet, I encourage you to read it soon. This book will appeal to all readers, whether male or female!
Profile Image for Margaret Mary.
20 reviews9 followers
February 18, 2019
Little Lovely Things starts conventionally, setting the scene of a typical modern family with two kids, mum and dad. Both parents are working and struggling to maintain the balance between work and quality time with the kids, portraying the feeling of a hectic but cohesive loving family environment.

I was not prepared for how suddenly the story was going to take a dramatic turn, plummeting this nuclear family into the depths of emotional turmoil and heart-wrenching tragedy, by the cruel abduction of their children.

The book focuses mainly on the mother, Claire, and the story progresses mainly from her perspective. She deals with her loss by burying herself in her work, struggles in dealing with grief and guilt, and the dogmatic refusal to believe all is lost. The development of the unlikely bond between Claire and Jay, a stranger borne out of this tragedy, the unconditional support and love from her sister and the unconventional stark measures employed by a chance meeting with Dr Howard Fisher to help her confront her demons. All of this in stark contrast to the growing schism in the relationship with her husband Glen, apart from the children, him being the main casualty of the unfolding saga.

I enjoyed how Maureen was able to take the reader along a wave of emotions via her characters, dealing with highly volatile and emotional issues. Particularly the journey through the healing process experienced by Gail which we get to witness, and it felt real and natural. As a first novel, I am impressed, when I finished the book I wanted to read more of this story, I was curious to find out what the future held for the family, Jay and even Moira.

It was a book I couldn’t put down, however, I was frustrated at times with the elaborate use of descriptive narrative, making me question was I reading poetry or in the middle of reading a novel. I felt this slightly hindered the storytelling as I just wanted to press on with the unfolding action. Though this is just my opinion as I am not a great lover of poetry. Perhaps it’s only natural as Maureen is an awarded poet.

I highly recommend this book and would give this a rating of 4.5
Profile Image for Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews.
1,082 reviews1,412 followers
April 10, 2019

Glen, Claire, Andrea, and Lily had the perfect life until the day Claire had to pull off the road because of dizziness, leave the car running with her daughters in it because of the heat, and then return to find the car and her daughters gone.

Could anything worse have happened? Of course the answer is no. A missing child is a parent's worst nightmare.

We follow the Rawlings family as they move through the heartbreaking days as the police investigate with no luck. As you read you will feel their pain as they remember their daughters and special occasions.

An interesting twist is another story line that will have you guessing how both stories connect.

For a debut novel, Ms. Connolly definitely knows how to put words together to make a fast-paced, tense, unable-to-put-down read with memorable characters.

Even though the subject isn't pleasant, Ms. Connolly did a superb, creative job with the topic and with pulling you into the story line and connecting with the characters.

LITTLE LOVELY THINGS is heartbreaking, heartwarming, and has 98% likeable characters. 5/5

This book was given to me as an ARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Susan Peterson.
1,633 reviews279 followers
April 7, 2019
I was completely spellbound by this book...a riveting and heart-wrenching story that illustrates how our lives can change in an instant. One minute Claire is the mother of two daughters, happily married, a busy medical resident, in the next moment she is grief-stricken, a shell of her former self. I was on the edge of my seat throughout, turning pages so quickly it was as if they turned themselves. Along with a compelling story, the characters are so wonderfully written that their emotions became mine, as if I were in their skin. This is a beautifully written story as well, lyrical at times but always keeping the story moving at a fast pace.
Profile Image for Sandysbookaday .
2,051 reviews2,107 followers
May 26, 2019
EXCERPT: Something like cold electricity shot through Claire and she gripped the steering wheel. The dream. It now returned to her with perfect clarity. The girls surrounded by white, playing on a frozen pond, dressed only in summer clothes. Frantic at the thinning surface, Claire called to them, but each crack running from their feet was a delight, another reason to press further from the shore. She watched her daughters grow smaller, tiny as seeds in the distance until finally they were swallowed into the silence of ice. And in that frozen landscape, both girls were outfitted exactly ass they were now: Lily in her yellow overalls and Andrea in the charm dress.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: A mother’s chance decision leads to a twist of fate that is every parent’s worst nightmare.

Claire Rawlings, mother of two and medical resident, will not let the troubling signs of an allergic reaction prevent her from making it in for rounds. But when Claire's symptoms overpower her while she's driving into work, her two children in tow, she must pull over. Moments later she wakes up on the floor of a gas station bathroom-her car, and her precious girls have vanished.

The police have no leads and the weight of guilt presses down on Claire as each hour passes with no trace of her girls. All she has to hold on to are her strained marriage, a potentially unreliable witness who emerges days later, and the desperate but unquenchable belief that her daughters are out there somewhere.

MY THOUGHTS: We all make dozens of small decisions every day, almost without thought, and mostly with little consequence. But when things go wrong...things go wrong. I would recommend that if you suffer from anxiety, don't read this book.

Told from multiple perspectives, this book chronicles the fallout from a momentary bad decision, one that probably many of us would have made under the circumstances. It explores the stress placed upon a family when their children go missing: the guilt of the parent who was caring for the children, the ultra-careful dancing of the other parent, careful not to outright blame his wife.

I liked the inclusion of Jay White, an itinerant Native American, who offers his help. Along the way we learn some of his tribes customs and folklore.

This is a book that had me plunging between emotions of hope and despondency over the fate of these two little girls.

An extremely satisfying read, and a surprisingly good debut novel.


THE AUTHOR: Maureen is a former owner of a consulting firm that helped specialty drug companies to develop medications for ultra-rare diseases. Maureen received her Bachelor’s degree in physiology from Michigan State University and her Master’s degree in Liberal Studies from Wesleyan University. Her background in science and love of the natural world informs and inspires her writing. LITTLE LOVELY THINGS is her debut as a novelist. She is also an award-winning poet, published in diverse outlets such as Emory University’s Lullwater Review and Yankee Magazine.

Maureen is a foodie and appreciates interesting recipes. She also enjoys painting (especially flowers and sycamore trees), competing in races with her dragon boat team (Go Fierce)!, and reading (of course). She relishes spending time with her three children, her husband and her pets; a ridiculous terrier named Huckleberry, and a plump orange cat, Pumpkin.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Sourcebooks Landmark via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Little Lovely Things by Maureen Joyce Connelly for review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my webpage sandysbookaday.wordpress.com
Profile Image for Marianne.
3,502 reviews178 followers
August 13, 2019
Little Lovely Things is the first novel by American poet and author, Maureen Joyce Connolly. It is any parent's worst nightmare: two young daughters in a car at a gas station, mother having passed out in the rest room from a medication reaction, wakes to find the car and the girls gone.

Lily Rawlings is just fifteen months old; her sister Andrea is four and a half; but despite police barricades quickly set up, there’s no sign of the girls or the car. Their parents, Claire and Glen are distraught at the possibilities. Witnesses are not reliable and the possible suspect has disappeared.

Without including spoilers, not a lot more can be said about the plot, but any reader who, from the back-cover blurb, thinks they know where this story is going will be mistaken. Already from the second chapter the reader knows who has taken the girls, but there are several surprises in store before the story reaches its exciting climax.

What can be said of this moving tale is that it features a Native American as a key character, a persistent old psychiatrist, some Irish Travellers and a touch of the paranormal. The Rawlings experience the double-edged sword of live media appearances and learn how feelings of guilt and self-recrimination, as well as unspoken blame, do damage to a marriage once thought strong.

What these abductors do, and the jaw-dropping ease with which they rationalise their actions, will stagger readers. Connolly easily conveys the emotions of the protagonists from various narrative perspectives. Her characters are believable for all their human flaws and weaknesses; the trauma and its aftermath see them grow and develop; the feisty Andrea and the young Lakota man are likely to be favourites.

A stirring and thought-provoking read, this is a brilliant debut novel that will have readers eager for more from this talented author.
Profile Image for Linda Zagon.
1,398 reviews119 followers
December 25, 2018
Lindas Book Obsession Reviews “Little Lovely Things” by Maureen Joyce Connolly, Sourcebooks Landmark, April 2, 2019

OMG! WOW! Maureen Joyce Connolly, Author of “Little Lovely Things” has amazingly written an intense, thought-provoking, intriguing, emotional, riveting, page-turning, captivating, and suspenseful nightmare for any parent. The Genres for this novel are Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, and Thriller. The timeline for this story starts in the past and goes several years into the present when it pertains to the characters or events in the story. The author describes her characters as flawed, complex and complicated possibly due to the events and circumstances in the story.

Claire Rawlings has two young children and is a medical resident. Claire has about 5 months to finish her residency, and hopefully we be on the track to making her family financially secure. Being a medical resident requires that the staff is given certain vaccinations to prevent them from catching communicable diseases. After Claire receives the vaccination, she starts to get a rash, and then starts to exhibit terrible symptoms. Claire has her two young children with her as she is driving them to daycare, so she can go to the hospital to work. Leaving her car running, she runs to the nearest public bathroom by a public-garage, feeling really sick. Claire blacks out. When she becomes concious, the car and both are daughters are missing.

The Paramedics and Police are surrounding her. Claire has had a rare allergic reaction to the vaccination and is hospitalized. Meanwhile a phone line is set up and alerts are as well. The police are looking for her two young daughters.

There are twists and turns and ups and downs. Some of the characters that are involved are good and some are evil. The investigation takes place over a few years.

I love that the author brings animals into the story with interesting personalities. I also appreciate that the author discusses how a tragedy can bring the best and worst out in people. Also discussed as having hope, faith and love.

I was literally sitting at the edge of my seat, as I was reading this. I couldn’t stop reading. Kleenex warning: Be sure to have tissues available. Maureen Joyce Connolly has written a masterpiece of suspense, that will leave you speechless. I would recommend this novel for those readers who enjoy mysteries and suspenseful thrillers.
Profile Image for Booksandchinooks (Laurie).
738 reviews74 followers
April 20, 2019
I read this book in one sitting for a blog tour I’m participating in. I was flying home from vacation and reading this book definitely made my flight feel short. This book grabs you right from the beginning and keeps you hooked until the end. Claire is driving her children to day care so she can get to work at the hospital where she is in her residency. En route Claire becomes violently sick and pulls over to a gas station. She parks right outside the restroom door and props the door open so she can keep an eye on the children. She is so incapacitated by her illness that she doesn’t realize the door has been closed and the car and children are gone. Now we follow Claire as the horror hits her that her children have been abducted. Compounding this is the fact that Claire is extremely sick and needs a great deal of medical care which hinders her in helping to ascertain and help in what has happened. As time passes the nightmare that Claire and her husband Glen face continues. There are no signs of the children or any idea as to who could have taken them. We also read about the captor’s lives and what the children are enduring. I don’t want to give away too much except to say this story is very raw and heartbreaking. Another important figure, Jay, comes into the story and I loved his character. As I said I found this book captivating from the beginning and couldn’t read fast enough.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 660 reviews

Join the discussion

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.