Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Bookish Thoughts: The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig

"Can we go look, can we go look, can we go look?" Eight-year-old Amelie tugged at Rachel's hand, pulling her toward the stairs. ~ Opening from The Other Daughter



The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig
St. Martin's Press, 2015
Fiction (Historical/Romance); 304 pgs

Some of you may have heard the story about how I ended up with a copy of this book. It was a birthday gift from my daughter who was very clear in her instructions to my husband about what she wanted to get me: A "real" book ("real" meaning a paper copy and not an e-book) with no pictures and something blue. My husband wisely checked out my Amazon wish list before settling on Lauren Willig's The Other Daughter.

The Other Daughter, set in the Jazz Erais the story of Rachel Woodley who has made her life as a nanny to a wealthy family in France. When she learns of her mother's illness, she rushes home to England to see her. A newspaper clipping among her mother's things reveal that Rachel's father, who she had long thought dead, may actually be alive--and not only that, but that he isn't who she always thought he was. He in fact is an Earl and quite well respected in the political community. He has another family, including a daughter. As she grieves for her beloved mother and tries to make sense out of her recent revelation that she may be an illegitimate child, Rachel travels to London. There, along with the help of a gossip columnist with a motive all his own, Rachel takes on the persona of Vera, and insinuates herself into the high society of London with the hopes of learning more about her father and his family and to confront him about the lie that was her childhood.

This was such a delicious read! I admit to not agreeing with Rachel at every turn, but I liked her just the same. She clearly isn't always thinking straight, caught up in her grief, anger and confusion. She finds herself all too easily fitting into the fast life of high society, and yet there's a part of her that knows she does not quite belong. Rachel lives in a time when being born out of wedlock carries a huge stigma--the scandal of her existence could put a big black mark against her father.

I loved the setting, the atmosphere, and the people. For all the drinking and partying, there are also close bonds, secrets and hardships. It gets harder for Rachel to deceive her new friends--for they truly do become her friends. Each of the characters are more than at first they may seem, with their own backstories. Simon, the journalist, intrigued me in particular--I wasn't sure, like Rachel, whether to trust him or not.

While I enjoyed this book quite a bit, there were aspects of it that left me wanting. As I mentioned previously, I didn't always agree with Rachel's choices and there were a couple instances when I was left scratching my head. As for Simon, I did not fully buy into his initial motive for helping Rachel become Vera--I am not sure why exactly, but the pieces just didn't fit as nicely together as other parts of the story.

I especially liked how everything played out, how not everything was perfectly wrapped up, and yet seemed just right for the characters, especially Rachel. Rachel's lies do have an impact on those around her, not to mention putting her in some very rough spots. This isn't a fairy tale in which the heroine is embraced despite everything. The weight she feels and the reaction of those around her--the consequences on her action--feel realistic. And it made me love the book even more.

The Other Daughter has the feel of being a light read and yet it tackles some rather heavy issues. There are comic moments and rather tearful ones. There is plenty of drama and a bit of romance with a hint of mystery. I quite enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more by Lauren Willig in the future.

To learn more about Lauren Willig and her books, please visit the author's website

Source: I received a copy of the book as a birthday gift from my daughter.


© 2015, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

16 comments:

  1. I like how your daughter was so very specific, she knows what she wants :) I think I already heard about this book, it looks like an enjoyable read, I'll check it out !

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    1. Iza - She definitely knows what she wants. :-) I quite enjoyed this book, more than I thought I would actually.

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  2. Mouse (and your husband) did a great job! The book sounds terrific!

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  3. An author I have still to get to. Thanks for this post.

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    1. Mystica - I really want to try some of her other books. I understand she has a series, but I haven't looked too closely at that yet.

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  4. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I so agree with not quite buying Simon's reasons for getting involved and with not agreeing with Rachel's choices sometimes. It did help me that I liked her and she was clearly confused and not thinking straight. Great review and what a great story for how you got it! What a sweet girl Mouse is and what a smart man your husband is!

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    1. Katherine - All because of your original recommendation. :-) Thank you for that!

      I had to remind myself that Rachel wasn't exactly thinking straight as I read. And I'm so glad it ended the way it did!

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  5. What a great way to choose a book! I might have to try it sometime :) This is an author that I have been meaning to try. Glad you enjoyed this one mostly!

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    1. Samantha - I like her way of thinking. :-) I really enjoyed this one and am curious what else the author has written.

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  6. What a nice gift!
    I have read Lauren Willig before and enjoyed her work. This one sounds good. I like the sound of the the Jazz Era setting. Glad you enjoyed this one!

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    1. Naida - She and her dad make a good gift giving team. :-) I am glad to hear you enjoy her work--that bodes well for me when I try something else by her!

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  7. The story of how you got this book is so sweet! I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it. It sounds interesting.

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    1. A.M.B. - She's such a sweetheart. I love her logic. :-)

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