What’s it all about?:
When a teenage girl goes missing her mother discovers she doesn’t know her daughter as well as she thought in Jane Shemilt’s haunting debut novel, Daughter.
THE NIGHT OF THE DISAPPEARANCE
She used to tell me everything.
They have a picture. It’ll help.
But it doesn’t show the way her hair shines so brightly it looks like sheets of gold.
She has a tiny mole, just beneath her left eyebrow.
She smells very faintly of lemons.
She bites her nails.
She never cries.
She loves autumn, I wanted to tell them. She collects leaves, like a child does. She is just a child.
ONE YEAR LATER
Naomi is still missing. Jenny is a mother on the brink of obsession. The Malcolm family is in pieces.
Is finding the truth about Naomi the only way to put them back together?
Or is the truth the thing that will finally tear them apart?
Daughter by Jane Shemilt is an emotional and compelling story about how well you really know those you love most.
What did I think?:
Daughter is the first book on the Richard and Judy Autumn Reads 2014 collection, which I follow pretty religiously and I was looking forward to diving into it. My sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads had already read it prior to the R&J list coming on and heartily recommended it and although this is quite a popular theme for a thriller, Jane Shemilt manages to put a new spin on it which I found refreshing and was instantly sucked into the story. The Malcolm family consists of mother and father, Jenny and Ted who are incredibly busy and hard-working parents. Jenny is a GP who insists on giving all her patients the time frame they deserve to discuss their health problems and Ted is a neurosurgeon who often works long, gruelling and anti-social hours. They have three children, the twins Ed and Theo, and their youngest, fifteen year old Naomi enjoying a relatively normal middle-class existence until their world is turned upside down one night when Naomi fails to come home after the school play where she has landed the lead role of Maria in West Side Story.
What I loved most about this book was how the time frames jolted about which was a great way for the reader to take a sneaky peek into the hours, days, months immediately prior to Naomi’s disappearance and then certain time periods afterwards, unearthing potential secrets and reasons behind what happened. I do love a chance to play detective! For me, it was like Jenny was re-playing certain conversations or incidents in her mind to try and find out how she failed as a mother, as her sense of guilt becomes overwhelming. Was it her fault? Did she not pay enough attention at the right times? Was she working too much and failed to see what was going on inside her own family? This must be questions all poor families who go through this experience ask of themselves, and the hell that not only Jenny but her father and brothers go through is presented by the author in a captivating manner that was quite moving to read.
During the time after Naomi’s disappearance, the reader sees that the “perfect” family from the outside is crumbling to pieces and a lot more secrets are unearthed than I expected, and not just about Naomi but about the other members of the family. I felt very sorry for Jenny as a character, as when her family should be supporting each other and sticking together they seemed to just break apart. A lot of people are talking about the ending but I’m still not certain how I feel about it to be honest. I am glad however, that she took the story in this direction and didn’t just stick to the storyboard happy family ending or go for the dramatic and depressing finale. As a debut novel, this is a fantastic read with a lot of depth and poignancy in the writing and I will definitely be looking out for this author in the future.
For another perspective…
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):