The Daughter by Jane Shemilt
About this book: (from the publisher) Jenny is a successful family doctor, the mother of three great teenagers, married to a celebrated neurosurgeon.
But when her youngest child, fifteen-year-old Naomi, doesn’t come home after her school play, Jenny’s seemingly ideal life begins to crumble. The authorities launch a nationwide search with no success. Naomi has vanished, and her family is broken.
As the months pass, the worst-case scenarios—kidnapping, murder—seem less plausible. The trail has gone cold. Yet for a desperate Jenny, the search has barely begun. More than a year after her daughter’s disappearance, she’s still digging for answers—and what she finds disturbs her. Everyone she’s trusted, everyone she thought she knew, has been keeping secrets, especially Naomi. Piecing together the traces her daughter left behind, Jenny discovers a very different Naomi from the girl she thought she’d raised.
About the author: While working full time as a physician, Jane Shemilt received an M.A. in creative writing. She was shortlisted for the Janklow and Nesbit award and the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize for The Daughter, her first novel. She and her husband, a professor of neurosurgery, have five children and live in Bristol, England.
Genre: Fiction/Thriller/Psychological Suspense
First impressions: Cover–good, sufficiently ambiguous and creepy. First pages–also good: an intriguing and very original start.
If this book were a movie, I would rate it: A strong PG-13 for language and mature themes
Reminds me of… Tess Gerritsen (minus the gore of some of her earlier ones), Tana French, Ruth Rendell
Will especially appeal to… fans of the above
This story matters because… it’ll make you ask: How much do I really know about what’s happening beneath my roof?
My take: Every so often I do like a good thriller, and in The Daughter, I got one. This psychological suspense gets its chill factor not from overt threat of violence–though this is of course implied and feared–but because of what is exposed as the real menace: The danger of unknowing.
It’s not a pretty story, but I found it to be a fascinating one. Built on particularly artful scaffolding, its premise is original and masterfully executed. I swallowed the entire novel whole in one long weekend, which happened to gloomy and gray–heightening my experience. Though this is one of She Reads’ Books of Spring, I personally would recommend tucking it away to enjoy over a rainy fall weekend–complete with cuppa and fire in the hearth, of course.
Full of twists along the way, The Daughter also has a suddenly unexpected ending that left me reeling yet satisfied–and looking forward to the next one from Jane Shemilt.
[Tweet “How well do you really know your family? #TheDaughter @JaneShemilt #SRBlog”]
Thanks to She Reads and William Morrow for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
After words: I was thinking about this one for days after. What was the last novel you read that stuck with you like that?