Prather’s Pick: A novel by a British author
“The Daughter” is a novel written by Jane Shemilt, a physician who lives in Bristol, England. While working as a physician, Shemilt received an MA in creative writing. This is her second book.
The novel begins in Dorset in 2010, a year after a terrible day when a family’s fifteen-year-old daughter doesn’t come home. The novel shifts back and forth in time and ends in 2011, fourteen months later.
The characters in the novel include, among others: Jenny, the narrator of the events; Ted, her successful neurosurgeon husband; Theo, Ed, and Naomi, the couple’s teenage children; Nikita and James, Naomi’s friends; Michael Kopje, family liaison officer; Beth, a head nurse at the hospital; and even Bertie, the family dog.
As the novel begins, in Dorset 2010, it is a year after Naomi disappeared. It is November, and Jenny feels very cold. Even Bertie is shivering. However, the cold isn’t just from the time of year. It has been a year since Naomi disappeared, and even though there has been a nationwide search, there’s been no sign of her daughter.
Up to a year ago, life had been good for the family. Jenny is a successful doctor herself, and she and Ted had been living a fulfilling life. Their children led active teenage lives. Naomi had a part in the school play and at the same time was taking standardized tests at school. Besides her practice, Jenny kept the household going, cooking family meals and keeping up with chores.
And then one night everything changes. Naomi does not return home after a play performance.
Naomi’s brother Ed was supposed to walk her home, but Naomi told him that a friend was going to walk her home instead. An investigation is launched with Michael Kopje in charge.
In the days to follow, the family learns that Naomi was dating James. They had been meeting at a family cottage, and Naomi is pregnant. In addition, a strange man has been turning up, even at the play performances. Jenny continues to search for evidence about her daughter, always tortured about the possibilities. Could it be a case of kidnapping? Murder? And what about Naomi’s child?
What Jenny discovers is a shock—for the reader, too.
“The Daughter” is published by William Morrow (2015). I reviewed the paperback book which costs about $9.99.
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