Thursday, 28 August 2014

Guest Book Review: Jane Shemilt - daughter

Reviewed by Emma Crowley


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.


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?

Amazon links: Kindle or Paperback

Daughter is the debut novel from Jane Shemilt and I’m sorry to say it didn’t live up to my expectations. The cover was beautiful and very intriguing and having read the blurb it sounded like a promising, thrilling read. But overall it was just too slow for me and jumped around far too much.  It didn’t pick up until the last quarter of the book and by then it was just too late to change my opinion despite the fact that I liked the ending.  Some people will enjoy the tense, suffocating atmosphere throughout the book and the authors way in which she slowly drip fed us information but I like a book where the action is more fast paced. I found myself not really liking any of the characters, yes something truly awful and life changing had happened to alter their family set up but I really didn’t care what happened to any of them.

Jenny works as a doctor in her local practice, seemingly having the perfect family life. Her husband Ted works long hours as a neurosurgeon which keeps him away from his family and when he does return home he is exhausted. Jenny has three children - twin boys and fifteen year old Naomi but each family member has secrets which they would rather were kept hidden than exposed for all to see. One night Naomi fails to return home after a meal with her cast mates. What has happened to Naomi? Yes she may have been quiet and preoccupied but she seemed happy in her role in the school show. Soon the police are on the hunt for the missing girl and Jenny’s family life is turned upside down as she is forced to evaluate everything which she thought was true.

Jenny is facing every woman’s worst nightmare - a missing child. From here on the story is told in flashbacks to the periods before and after the incident and to a year later where Jenny is living in a cottage on her own. I felt she was made to feel extremely guilty that she didn’t spot what was going on with her children (as the boys also had problems of their own), I know she would feel lots of remorse over what had happened but this just went over the top and she really was a character I felt nothing for. Jenny was a busy working woman but it can be difficult to strike the right balance between home and work life and people can’t be expected to be on top of everything all the time no matter how much you love a family member. Ultimately people will do their own thing despite advice and no matter how close an eye you keep on them.

Jumping around in such a short time space was really irritating. Normally I love books that have two different time frames but in this book the time was just too close together and there was far too much back and forth, it just got too confusing. Yes, the author wrote at the top when it was a new time but I got fed up of reading a few pages, then seeing a change and having to adjust to where the characters were and what they were doing and feeling. Just as I had become familiar with the setting off they went again and it was a year later or several days before the incident. This gave the novel no flow for me and just made me dislike the characters even more as I felt I was getting vague glimpses into what they were experiencing and couldn’t really relate to them.

The only redeeming feature for me was the ending, it mightn’t have satisfied some people but I did like that it didn’t follow the norm and I never would have guessed what had actually happened even if at the time I remember thinking there was something odd about a certain character. I’m glad I persisted to the end even just to find out what happened but I’m sorry to say it certainly was a long drawn out slog to get there.

I'd like to thank Emma for her honest review of this eBook which we received from the publisher via NetGalley.

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