Title: The Daughter
Author: Jane Shemilt
Genre: Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Read: March 3, 2015-March 10, 2015 – I own a copy.
Jenny is a successful family doctor in England, who seems to have everything, a perfect job, perfect marriage, and the perfect family. When Jenny’s fifteen-year-old doesn’t return home after a school play, Jenny’s life starts to crumble. Naomi seems to have vanished, and the authorities have no clue how to find her. As the weeks and months after Naomi’s disappearance go by, Jenny starts to discover information that shows a very different Naomi from the girl she thought she’d raised.
The Daughter is Jane Shemilt’s debut novel, and for a first novel it did not disappoint. While the book was a suspenseful page-turner that kept me up until late hours of the night, there were a few problems for me. The flow of the narrative was not continuous. Shemilt switched back and forth between the days/weeks leading up to the daughter’s disappearance to a year after her disappearance. My problem with that type of narrative structure was the fact that all the leads and suspects that you learned about in the days and weeks coming up to the disappearance, if they were still present in the novel a year later, then you knew they probably weren’t involved in the disappearance, so that broke the flow of suspense to me. Although I enjoyed the book, I did not really like any of the characters and could not truly sympathize with any of them. I couldn’t stand the mother’s naiveté about her children’s lives to the point of denial. The father’s cold and detached personality, and the twin brothers’ rich and spoiled behavior. As for Naomi, we only get to know her initially by Jenny’s eyes, and obviously the mother was oblivious to Naomi’s lifestyle and affairs. Naomi being such a central character was never truly developed, and her actions at the end of the book seemed random, leaving the reader begging for more explanations. The daughter is a novel that ponders on topics of betrayal, guilt, truth and family, and asks the question: “Can we have extremely busy careers and still be truly involved in our families’ lives?