REVIEW: THE DAUGHTER, BY JANE SHEMILT

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When fifteen-year-old Naomi Malcolm failed to come home after her school play one night in Bristol, England, her parents, Jen and Ted Malcolm, both doctors, firmly believe that she will come home on her own. But they do call in the police after she has been missing for several hours.

The year is 2009, and as we follow the journey of the family, friends, and police, the answers seem to grow even more elusive.

For Naomi had her secrets, and it would be a long time before they are all revealed. And even fourteen months later, when Jen is living alone in the cottage in Dorset that she had inherited from her mother, we are still pulling back the layers of who Naomi was and what motivated her. In fact, Ted himself has been keeping a number of secrets, some of which he revealed early on, but the more significant ones were slow in coming out.

Ed and Theo, the twin brothers who were seventeen, have their own issues, and we gradually learn what is behind their anger and frustration.

Would Ted and Jen each have to face their own culpability in how events unfolded? Could their busy schedules and their trust in what their children told them have led to everything that happened?

It is not surprising that Ted and Jen would separate, nor is it a shock to discover that some secrets could have led to a resolution sooner if the characters had been forthright.

Jen is our first person narrator, and she tells the story, going backward and forward in time, from 2009 to 2011. In the end, just when I thought all the secrets were out, there is another shocking reveal. I enjoyed The Daughter: A Novel, but the sweeping narrative sometimes felt repetitive and sluggish. 4.5 stars.