“When it comes to making a decision, look at both sides, listen to your heart, then pick one and dive in…” (4 stars)
Source- personal copy
Published by Mira in 2009
I read the kindle version. The paperback is 522 pages
I’m conscious that I’ve been fairly absent on here in the past couple of weeks, particularly after I made a concerted effort to try and blog a bit more last month, despite how busy I was in October. Truth be told, the books I’ve been reading as of late are hefty doorstop tomes that are taking me forever to plough through (Moby Dick/IT) or else are ones that I don’t necessarily see the point in reviewing on here (Nora Roberts romance books…). The Lost Daughter is different though, and was a slice of contemporary fiction that I heartily enjoyed reading.
Diane Chamberlain’s novel is a compelling story of mistakes, relationships and family. It is a book that poses some dramatic questions that really make you think about what it actually means to be a parent, as well as how well you can ever actually know someone deep down. Its thought-provoking tone is similar to that of Jodi Picoult or Heather Gudenkauf and this novel is second now in my favourite Chamberlain books so far, behind The Midwife’s Confession. Published under the alternate name ‘The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes’ outside of the UK, this is a story that will have you gripped by its twists and turns.
CeeCee lost her mother when she was twelve, though her legacy to her daughter lives on in a series of loving letters she left behind. Though intelligent and book smart, vulnerable CeeCee is still in need of love and comfort- and as a naïve sixteen-year-old makes the terrible mistake of becoming involved in an unspeakable crime, desperate to please her older boyfriend. The crime results in her going on the run with a newborn in tow and forces her to say goodbye to CeeCee Wilkes forever…
This was a dramatic story of the impact that youthful choices can have on the rest of our lives. The mistakes that we make not only resonate on us, but also on those around us and I think this was all the more poignant being witnessed from the perspective of CeeCee, a character who I genuinely cared about. She is likeable and smart, as well as sweet and I think anyone can understand that someone so desperate to be cared about would think with their hearts before their heads. That doesn’t justify what she did of course, but it makes her decision easier to understand. Even knowing her actions, you still cannot hate her as ultimately she did what she herself considered to be right at the time, though the guilt has haunted her ever since.
The characters in this book were fleshed out really well and I believed in them all, with their unique quirks and foibles. You even get to know CeeCee’s mother posthumously, via her letters to her daughter, which was beautifully done and added a sentimental tone to the plot. I think the only character who I didn’t particularly like was Cory, though as the book progresses you begin to comprehend why she is the way she is- and I softened towards her as the story reached its conclusion. Settings too, were believable. Overall this was a very engaging, atmospheric read with a great degree of psychological insight into human relationships and behaviour.
For me, this book loses a star because I did think the ending was a bit ‘rushed’ and it also seemed tied up in a way that whilst it had the ‘feel good’ factor, didn’t feel particularly true to life; this was all the more noticeable given how the book had been going by until then. The book was also pretty slow-burning in its intensity at the start. Despite that, this riveting tale of motherhood is a must-read for fans of well-written family dramas. It was perfectly paced and I genuinely found it hard to put down until I’d finished it. As a result of that, I think this would make a brilliant book group pick.