Publication: NZ BookLovers

There is always something daunting about a book that is written concerning the disappearance of a child – it is one of those subjects that just screams “disturbing” at you, long before you even open the cover of the book. Therefore it was with some trepidation that I started reading Jane Shemilt’s debut novel Daughter, which centres on the vanishing of a fifteen year old girl, and the family’s subsequent journey of searching for the truth about the disappearance, and the truth about who their daughter actually is.

The novel is told from the perspective of Jenny, a busy middle aged GP, mother to three teenage children and an (even busier) neurosurgeon husband. The description of Jenny’s days sounds like any working mother’s frantic and overextended life: the demands of her at the surgery are all- encompassing, while her home life with a virtually absent husband and three variously aloof and scornful teenagers is also no picnic. Despite Jenny’s busy working life she seems to believe that she knows her daughter Naomi well, and that there are no secrets between them. When one night Naomi doesn’t return home at her curfew, Jenny feels instantly anxious and – unlike her husband – has an inkling that something is seriously wrong. Jenny’s hunch is confirmed when Naomi does not show up any time later in the night, but instead, from that point on completely disappears..

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