‘Daughter’ by Jane Shemilt tells of tale where a 15 year old girl disappears the night before her final stage performance. Written from the mother’s point of view, it describes the mother’s anguish and desperation in the search that follows.
I had high hopes for this book. The reviews were good, and it had been nominated for a couple of award. Unfortunately, for about 75% of the book, I could not get into it. All I wanted to do was put it down and start another one. My perseverance was paid off in the end, as the last 25% or so actually got interesting, where they really start to put the pieces together to find out what happened. But, I can’t imagine that many people are going to force themselves to get that far and finish a book, particularly if they have other ones to read.
My main problem was Jenny – the main character. For much of the novel, I found her just plan annoying and ignorant. I could clearly see what was going on, and yet she was so wrapped up in herself that I wanted to reach into the novel and give her a good shake. Much of the novel is about the fact that she has not been paying that much attention to her children, so I can see why Shemilt has made her this way, but it makes it incredibly hard to like the character and feel any empathy at all. Which is quite bad, considering the novel was from her point of view. I was far more interested in the other characters, who we only got glimpses of.
The plot was also very slow. Told between two timelines, the structure was interesting, but it took a while to grasp and get used to. The fact you got very little time in each timeline before it changed to the other only added to the problems. The style was not really my cup of tea either. It was very artsy and felt like it was trying too hard. This disappeared towards the end when the story really started to get going.
I hate being this negative though, and the book did have some good points. The other characters in the family were enjoyable, and I cared about them, I understood their actions. The novel was full of twists and turns (admittedly, only one of the twists really felt like a twist, but the plot was not completely straight forward), and the ending was heart-felt. Shemilt can write, but her style is just not for me and I did not really enjoy reading this book. I will say that I was not feeling that well when I started, which could have been a contributing factor.
Anyways, if you’ve read it, leave a comment letting me know what you think!