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‘Someone Else’s Daughter’
by Jennifer Harvey
Books on Tours
Review

 

Cover image of the book 'Someone Else's daughter' by author Jennifer Harvey

Thanks once again go out to the lovely Sarah, representing Bookouture, for including me in this ‘Books on Tour’ outing, and to the great team at NetGalley, who always make downloads so seamless to acquire.

With Fiction Books stop taking place close to the end of the tour, I’m sure that there will have been plenty of other reviews already shared, as well as those still to come, so why not visit a few of the other tour participants and see what they think … A full schedule of ‘Books on Tour’ spots, is shown below!

‘SOMEONE ELSE’S DAUGHTER’

Cover image of the book 'Someone Else's daughter' by author Jennifer HarveyThey’d left their daughter with us, their only child, and we hadn’t protected her. That was all they would see when they looked at us—that we had failed them.

I count down the days until we can leave the city behind and return to the beach house. Where James and Katie can roam free over the dunes, like they did as children, and Peter will swap his 6 a.m. starts for the stacks of fluffy pancakes he lovingly serves up for our family breakfasts. These sun-drenched, golden days, just the four of us, are what I hold on to all year long.

But this summer Katie’s best friend will be coming with us. I tell myself the girls will have fun together, pushing aside the doubts I have about this uninvited guest. Isa. With her corn-silk hair and luminous skin, who manages to overshadow my daughter at every turn. Who has been dumped on us by her own parents, too caught up in their petty dramas to see what is right in front of them.

Because I can see it. There is something dangerous about Isa. Something more than a carefree girl, testing boundaries as she approaches adulthood. She threatens to cast storm clouds across my beach house days. I feel as powerless to stop her as I would in the face of a hurricane.

By the end of the summer, Isa will be dead. And I will have to face her mother. I don’t know if I will be able to find the words. How can I begin to explain that she never really knew her daughter at all?

JENNIFER HARVEY

Jennifer Harvey is a Scottish writer now living in The Netherlands.

Someone Else’s Daughter is her debut novel and is part of a three book deal she has signed with publisher Bookouture.

Her short stories have been published in numerous literary magazines in the US and the UK, such as Bare Fiction, Litro Online, Carve Magazine, Folio, and The Lonely Crowd. She has been shortlisted for various short story prizes including the Bristol Prize, the University of Sunderland Short Story Award and the Bridport Prize.

Jennifer’s radio dramas have won prizes and commendations from the BBC World Service. She has been longlisted twice for the Bath Novel Award.

When not writing she reads submissions for Carve Magazine and she is a member of the Carve Critiques editorial services team. Jennifer also serves as a member of the editorial board for Ellipsis Magazine.

She is also the former Flash Fiction Editor of Litro Online and was a Senior Editor for the Webby Award nominated Mash Stories.

Keep up with the latest news at Jennifer’s website

Follow Jennifer on Twitter

“It’s a cliché, but above all else – read. Read everything – all genres, fiction and non-fiction. And take the time to think now and then about what you read. Analyse it. When you find something you enjoy ask yourself why it works. Similarly, when you find something you don’t like ask yourself why.

And be daring when you write. Short stories are an invaluable way to learn craft and to play around with things without investing as much time and effort as a novel requires. So try writing things outside your comfort zone – if you tend to write more literary fiction then have a go at fantasy or thriller as this can often help you obtain a better grasp of setting, say or plot. You don’t need to do anything with these short stories in terms of getting them published – just use them to experiment. Often when you know a story may never be read by anyone else, you can really take the reins off and have some fun.

And don’t be shy. Take the leap and join a writing group. Having readers look closely at your writing is invaluable. Writing is a solitary occupation, but no book is written in isolation.”

Cover image of the book 'Someone Else's daughter' by author Jennifer Harvey

FIRST LINES

KATIE

“I suppose, in our hearts, we all knew she was dead. But hope kept us looking for her. Hope kept us calling out her name. All afternoon we searched for her, scouring the beach as the sun blazed over the dunes.”

Cover image of the book 'Someone Else's daughter' by author Jennifer Harvey

MEMORABLE LINES

“It’s terrible to think that everything was set in motion by such a poorly considered decision. I caved in, despite my better judgement. I allowed my emotion to get the better of my intuition.”

.

“Likes that would keep on coming even after she died, the tally of little red hearts maintaining a ghoulish upward tick. Even in death, Isa would lose none of her allure.”

.

“Though it seemed the crime was not so much the infidelity, as the humiliation it would cause. The fragile male ego. He was right about that. It was a dangerous thing.”

.

“When I looked at Isa that summer, it was like watching her from afar, and the new distance provided a perspective, and allowed me to notice something I hadn’t understood until then. That Isa wasn’t a good friend. Friends didn’t treat one another this way.”

.

“But he had no answers either. Because there were no words. There were no explanations. We had no consolation to offer. Just the terrible fact that we had failed Sarah and Willem in the most awful way imaginable.

.

“Every end is also a beginning”

.

“I should have realized, with Isa, nothing was ever over until Isa decided it was.”

.

“Piece by piece. That’s how the truth is always revealed, though it had taken a while for me to understand that sometimes the people you care about most are the ones most capable of hurting you,”

.

“A daughter, a brother, a son. Both gone. And I could not help but think that it was fair in a way, that the suffering should be shared equally in the end.”

Cover image of the book 'Someone Else's daughter' by author Jennifer Harvey

REVIEW

“A secret can be as bad as a lie.”

Okay! Where to begin with this one?

You really need to read the whole of my review, to get into context points I might make in the first few lines, as this is definitely one of those stories which takes each reader on their own individual experience.

I am quite laid back and eclectic in my choice of reading genres, so I will often take a premise at face value and just see where the story takes me. I’m not sure that for me this one was so much a thriller, as a mystery, albeit one with some very dark and troubling undertones. However that was fine by me!

Someone Else’s daughter, had everything I look for in an interesting, engrossing and page-turning read. There was a good strong opening to the story, there were plenty of elements of mystery and intrigue in the core storyline, together with some deep and meaningful narrative and dialogue. The ending was maybe not quite so definitive as I generally like, but given that I had compiled quite a list of options for the finale, I was never going to be disappointed.

I did enjoy Jennifer’s considered writing style, and although I might agree with some other readers, that the narrative and dialogue was all very ‘English’ in its delivery and maybe a little out of keeping with the book’s US location, that didn’t really worry me too much. I’m not a fan of  ‘Is all’ being included in the dialogue, at the end of almost every other sentence, however that again is simply a personal consideration and did nothing to diminish my enjoyment of the book and the author’s ability to write an addictive, character driven storyline, which flowed along nicely and was very fluid.

The emotionally draining storyline was a real slow-burner affair, told in alternating, short chapters, between mother and daughter, Louise and Katie. Although intensely sad throughout, it was definitely not a tear-jerker read for me, more a portent of the impending darkness and sorrow to come. There was no real ‘action’ in this deeply dark and brooding story, with even the first tragedy when it happened, being an almost subdued and rather understated affair. However the intense and highly charged narrative and dialogue between characters made the journey more than worthwhile, offering an in depth and meaningful glimpse into the lives of the entire cast. I could have been present yet unseen, at any of the story locations, or listening in on any of the conversations, such was the descriptive quality of the writing.

This was very much a gripping, yet frustrating story of selfish, controlling and self-absorbed human intent, emotions and feelings, which was pretty much all that held these two families clinging together and functioning on a daily level, although even then this was a very shaky foundation, liable to crumbling any minute, with simply a wrong look or word.

Holiday romances and vicious vengeful squabbles, illicit and inappropriate affairs, untold questionable decisions and false friendships, all lead to the door of a second tragic event, which will have reverberating and guilty repercussions for everyone involved and which will last and haunt them for the rest of their lives.

The complex characters were all well developed, although pretty much exclusively, all detestable in their own way and definitely not easy to connect with. Certainly none of them were particularly likeable, either as individuals and definitely not, in the case of the adults, as parents! The rebellious youngsters were also a very troubled and largely ignored group of individuals, fuelled by false friendships, all trying to find their way in life, without the support and encouragement of their elders, who were most definitely not role models who led by example.

It seemed as though everyone was caught up in the endless cycle of the tit for tat, retaliatory, blame game, as a way of deflecting attention away from themselves, their own shortcomings, their deceitful and attention seeking behaviour, self-pity and lies; all of which ultimately led to their self-inflicted downfall and demise into dark places of their own making. I just wanted to shake most of them, to try and wake them from their almost catatonic stupor and force them into the real world, where not everything revolved around them and how terrible their lives were.

When families have gone so far down the road of self destruction and laid bare so many emotions and deep divisions, is there really any way to wake from the nightmare?

All in all, an excellent debut novel and a good solid writing style to build on, which I found particularly perceptive in the power of characterisation and human behaviour.

I look forward to reading more of Jennifer’s books in the future.

 

A complimentary kindle download of this book, was made available by the publisher and supplied by NetGalley.

Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.

I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 4 out of 5 stars!

Image of the Books On Tour banner for the book 'Someone Else's Daughter' by author Jennifer Harvey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by
Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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4 comments
  • Thank you for an interesting and open review, Yvonne. I think you’ve done a great job of sharing your thoughts on the novel. It does sound interesting in many ways, although it sounds perhaps a little more “angst-ridden” thank I’m looking for at the moment. That said, I just looked at Amazon and it’s currently priced at 99 cents…. so it’s now on my Kindle!

    I also enjoyed the suggestions from the author about reading and writing that you included.

    • Hi Kelly,

      I do try to be honest with my reviews, but just because I find the odd little niggle here and there, that is purely personal to me and in no way diminishes my enjoyment of the story.

      If I gave a review with no personal opinions, then it wouldn’t really be a true reflection of my reading experience. On the other hand, I see no reason to offer up horrible comments in a review unnecessarily, as someone else might really enjoy the story.

      It is quite an ‘angst ridden’ narrative and dialogue, as you so succinctly put it, but Jennifer has managed to get right under the skin of her characters and I really got to know them inside out, although sometimes I don’t know if that was a blessing or a curse, as they were all so loaded with baggage that I just wanted to shake them up half the time!

      A really good look at the selfish nature of most people, even though these particular characters really thought they were being hard done by and were the victims of the piece.

      For 99 cents I don’t think you will be disappointed and I look forward to seeing what your take on the storyline is 🙂

  • Fantastic review Yvonne, I’m glad you enjoyed Someone Else’s Daughter. I’ve read books where I did not like the central characters but the writing was wonderful and had me hooked.
    I like the author’s advice on writing, thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Naida,

      This one is definitely character rather than plot driven, so Jennifer took full advantage of the opportunity to show off her flair for writing excellent dialogue and narrative. I really wanted to get my hands on some of the characters and really give them a good slapping. If you don’t mind the slow burning storyline, then I can definitely recommend it 🙂

      I hope that you enjoyed your time away from Blogland and stay safe 🙂

Written by Yvonne

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