Daughter by Jane Shemilt
Published by Penguin
28th August 2014
When a teenage girl goes missing her mother discovers she doesn't know her daughter as well as she thought in Jane Shemilt's haunting debut novel, Daughter.
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 has a tiny mole, just beneath her left eyebrow.
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?
This is one of the Richard & Judy titles for their autumn book group and as I usually love what they choose, I was looking forward to reading this! One night, Jenny's daugher Naomi doesn't come home. This is only discovered the next morning by Jenny, after she falls asleep waiting to hear Naomi turn the key in the lock of the door. But where can she be? It is then discovered that Naomi hasn't quite been honest with her parents about what she was doing the previous night, the meal out with the cast of the school play she is staring in never happened. So where did she go, who with, and why?
This is basically every parent's nightmare. Child doesn't return home, but then you start to discover that what you thought you knew about them doesn't ring true either. Jane Shemilt tellls a good tale here. Interspersed with Naomi's disappearance, she examines the effect that this has on the family, of the relationship between Jenny and her husband Ted, and that of their other children, twin boys, Ed and Theo.
You can definitely tell that the author has a medical background, as Jenny too is a gp, but this works well, as her seemingly normal day job suddenly gets tied in to Naomi's disappearance, and you don't quite know who to trust. The book moves backwards and forwards from the day of Naomi's disappearance, to the present day, one year on, still with no clue as to where Naomi is. I did worry that I was going to be left with an unsatisfactory closure but I think that the way this is delivered is perfectly apt for the book and I was happy with the conclusion. It's a great read, a real page-turner and I can see why it's been picked as one of the book club choices.