The Drowning Lesson By Jane Shemilt
The Jordan family thought they would return from their gap year abroad enriched, better people, a closer family.
Not minus one child. A year on, Emma remains haunted by the image of that empty cot, thousands of miles away, the chasm between her and the rest of the family growing with each day that Sam remains missing. Is her son still out there? Will the mystery about what happened that night ever be unravelled?
When it comes to books by Jane Shemilt, I have a bit of complicated relationship with them, as I initially find them difficult to get into and then when once I get into them, I find them impossible to put down and when I eventually put them down, the difficulty resumes to get back into them. It’s a frustrating cycle.
In her latest book we meet Emma, a woman who decides to give up her career and life in England to move to Africa to support her husband in his career with their three children. It’s during this time away, that their baby Sam is stolen away and they are left to wonder if their defenceless baby is dead or alive.
The story is seen solely through Emma’s narrative and the chapters alternate between the past and present, to the time leading up to Sam’s disappearance.
I found Emma to be a difficult and manipulative character, as she secretly planned her third pregnancy. She’s quite cold in parts and isn’t the most of a maternal parent towards her daughters, which is quite apparent in their relationship. But, as the story progresses, she begins to thaw as she deals with losing her baby.
The story is quite atmospheric and Jane is very vivid with her descriptions, describing the African towns, the poverty and the witchcraft that the townsfolk whisper about, which does make for eerie reading.
The story is primarily about the disappearance of child and how a woman deals with the idea of losing a child, but there is a smaller sub story about Emma and her father. It’s inclusion wasn’t completely clear to me, but it still made for interesting reading as it shaped Emma into the woman that she has become.
With despair and suspense dripping from every page and where everyone is a suspect, ‘The Drowning Lesson’ is a dark and well written story, that is worth the initial struggle of getting into.
You can buy The Drowning Lesson from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.