27 August 2015
The Simms’s live in affluent middle class suburbia, they have a good lifestyle, a steady income and settled family life, but this is all turned upside down when Stephanie, Rosalind and Dan’s, fifteen year old daughter, absconds with Nathan Temperley, her geography teacher. With their lives held up to scrutiny, and at the centre of a major police investigation, the Simms’s lives are about to change forever.
When the story opens, we meet the family, some six years later, when the phone call comes through that Rosalind has dreaded, that in eleven days’ time, Temperley will be released, early, from serving his prison sentence for his abduction of Stephanie. What then follows is a slow burner of a story which takes the story forward day by day, counting down to Temperley’s release date, whilst at the same time recounting the family’s back story in a series of cleverly constructed flashbacks.
What I enjoyed most about the book was that it didn’t over sensationalise the relationship between Temperley and Stephanie, and yet, you understand deep in your bones, that it was fundamentally abhorrent, and that the horror of what happened is present in every hidden nuance. And as the story is revealed piecemeal, we get a real sense of the damage done to vulnerable individuals and of how, years later, the family are still struggling to come to terms with what happened. Like all domestic noir stories, this one bites deep into the very heart of family life, it dissects values and scrutinises the minutiae of behaviour, and reveals chinks and cracks and hidden secrets which only serve to obstruct the family’s mental and physical long term recovery. Like all mothers, Rosalind, is determined to try to protect Stephanie at all cost, but at what price?
The Daughter’s Secret takes a devastating family incident, and infuses the story with a heightened sense of that of a runaway train out of control. It is a really accomplished debut novel and was, quite rightly, chosen as the 2014 Good Housekeeping winner of the novel writing competition.
Eva Holland is a free lance copywriter and public relations consultant with a life long love of words and stories. She grew up in Gloucestershire and studied in Leeds before moving to London where she lives with her husband. The Daughter's Secret is her first novel.
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