BOOK REVIEW: Daughter by Jane Shemilt

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 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?
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 390 

Daughter by Jane Shemilt is so good, I devoured it in one day, staying up until 2am to finish as I couldn't bear going to sleep without knowing what happened.
Jenny is a GP married to Ted, a neurosurgeon; together they have a daughter Naomi and twin boys Theo and Ed. Life requires a lot of juggling but Jenny feels as though she is just about managing, that is until Naomi goes out one night and doesn't come back. Naomi is just fifteen; as the police begin their investigation Jenny is made to question just how well she knows her daughter, when did she start keeping secrets and why?
A year later and Naomi is still missing. The family is devastated and each member has dealt with it in a different way. Jenny is not giving up though, she is desperate to know the truth about what happened to her beautiful little girl, however terrifying that may be.
The author, Jane Shemilt is a GP and is married to a professor of neurosurgery, Daughter is her debut novel and I was very impressed. The story and the characters very much resonated with me, I am married to a doctor and this is the first fictional book I have read that really 'got' what that is like and how it impacts on family life. Jenny and Ted are both in stressful jobs and have a huge amount of responsibility. However much they try, this cannot always be left in the doctors surgery or operating theatre; it infiltrates their marriage and family life. I think the author really highlights the role of the working mother, I felt like she was questioning the way in which women often bear the brunt of responsibility. Jenny and Ted both have demanding careers yet Jenny is still expected to do the majority of the parenting. Is th
at right? Is Jenny somehow responsible for what happened to Naomi? Would she still have gone missing if Jenny had been a stay-at-home mum?
I thought that Daughter was very realistic, as a mother of a young daughter it made me feel physically sick at times as the idea of being in Jenny's shoes terrified me.
Shemilt's writing is superb, she layers the tension and intrigue until you are on the very edge of your seat. The ending knocked me sideways, I re-read the last few pages several times as I couldn't believed what had happened.
Jane Shemilt is an author to keep an eye on, Daughter is a brilliant and accomplished debut, I hope she's already working on the next one.


Kim said...

Ooo....it sounds like this book really got your attention, Dot. Will definitely look out for it. Thank you for the review.

Jess Hearts Books said...

I keep seeing this about and almost pick it up each time! After reading your review I think I'm definitely going to have to get it next time. :)

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

Awesome review. I'm not familiar with the book or the author, but now I want to track down a copy!

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