Published in the UK in August 2015 this debut novel by Eva Holland was the winner of the Good Housekeeping novel writing competition 2014.
The blurb: “My daughter is a liar. A liar, liar, liar. And I’m starting to see where she gets it from. When Rosalind’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Stephanie, ran away with her teacher, this ordinary family became something it had never asked to be. Their lives held up to scrutiny in the centre of a major police investigation, the Simms were headline news while Stephanie was missing with a man who was risking everything.
Now, six years on, Ros takes a call that will change their lives all over again. He’s going to be released from prison. Years too early. In eleven days’ time.
As Temperley’s release creeps ever closer, Ros is forced to confront the events that led them here, back to a place she thought she’d left behind, to questions she didn’t want to answer. Why did she do it? Where does the blame lie? What happens next?”
My thoughts: We’ve all seen those police press conferences on the news. Distraught parents whose teenage daughter is missing, presumed to be on the run with her teacher. Most of us probably blame the predatory teacher and hardly give the family a second thought. But what about the story behind the headlines? What if the daughter’s home life was far from perfect?
The Daughter’s Secret is cleverly structured so we see the situation from three time points (though only from the point of view of the mother). Firstly the clock is ticking down through eleven days towards the release of the disgraced teacher Nathan Temperley. Within that, Stephanie, the daughter, has been brought home by her parents Ros and Dan, after her flatmate rang them for help. We also have clues to a relationship that Ros has been having, and why does it seem that Dan would rather be at work than at home?
There are flashbacks to before and during Stephanie’s disappearance that give us a clear view of Ros’s neurotic approach to parenting. What makes this such a page turner is that the reader is dying to know what will happen when Temperley is released from prison. No spoilers here folks!
This is not a comfortable read, especially for the parent of a 20 year old daughter. However it is an engrossing story written using spellbinding language.
Thank you to the publisher, Orion, for my review copy of the book.