Daughter by Jane Shemilt
It has taken me a while to type thoughts to blog. This is a hard hitting book and I think to provide a review half heartedly would somehow dishonor the story. Plus, when a book leaves a lingering feeling of emptiness, how can one find the words to put into a review?
The book is centred around a missing girl and the subsequent deteriation of her whole family. It infuses past and present narrative to create a seamless flow of thoughts and memories, all from the mothers perspective. When I bought this book, I didn’t realise the strength of the story I was about to unfold, it opens the door to an otherwise locked life, that of a parent with a missing child. The way in which each character intereacts with each other is chilling, shocking, yet so real.
I could never have guessed the ending, but the way in which I got there was predictable. But not in a negative way. It was more Shemilt luring out my understanding of grief. We all know, have all seen tears on the TV news, in films and we all think we know what goes through peoples’ minds. But to read it in such a raw and obvious way makes you realise that you know nothing. That you pray to God this will never happen to you.
In terms of the pace of the story, it is slow. But you don’t need it to go any faster as the perfectly dovetails that of the trauma, fast in the beginning, slow and agonising in the middle, then normal and reluctant towards the end.
This book has a 3.6 on Goodreads. I think the problem lies in the fact that there isn’t a whole lot of action, just memories and anguish. People also don’t recognise the book as belonging to a typical genre, something Shemilt exaplins so well:
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
Psychological suspense, (thriller/drama) is the nearest that I can get to placing the book, not a very meaningful label as so many books within this capacious scope are completely different from each other. My background is medical, I’m an ex- GP, my husband is a neurosurgeon. It was helpful to use this known world to create the back drop to both books, and some issues from that world become important. In Daughter: the dangers of labelling, of short cuts, doctors playing God. But Daughter isn’t a medical drama; it’s a story about a missing girl and the themes of grief, loss, harmful secrets, betrayal and fear do resonate with others in this genre.
An extract from her website.
I am giving this book 5 stars because I think it is brilliantly written, it demonstrates a real talent from Shemilt and I can’t believe this is only her debut.