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The Drowning Lesson By Jane Shemilt

The Drowning Lesson‘The Drowning Lesson’ is the latest book 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.

Daughter By Jane Shemilt

Daughter ‘Daughter’ is Jane Shemilt’s debut novel.

She used to tell me everything. They have a picture. It’ll help. But it doesn’t show the way her hair shines so brightly it looks like sheets of gold. She has a tiny mole, just beneath her left eyebrow. She smells very faintly of lemons. She bites her nails. She never cries. She loves autumn, I wanted to tell them. She collects leaves, like a child does. She is just a child.
Naomi is still missing. Jenny is a mother on the brink of obsession. The Malcolm family is in pieces. Is finding the truth about Naomi the only way to put them back together? Or is the truth the thing that will finally tear them apart?

‘Daughter’ is a complex story that makes for chilling reading as it’s about every parents nightmare when their child goes missing.

It’s seen entirely from Jenny Malcolm’s perspective and is written in both the past and present tense when Jenny’s daughter Naomi mysteriously disappears one night. The flashbacks refer to the moment when she vanishes and then the story follows on fourteen months later and how things have altered for the Malcolm family and the repercussions as they try to carry on with their lives. But Jenny never gives up and continues on with her own private investigation, discovering new secrets about her not so perfect family along the way.

Jenny is a fascinating character, as a mother I felt a strong sense of empathy for her, as she goes through this particularly difficult time although the rest of the family seemed to have moved on, even though there was no conclusion regarding Naomi’s sudden absence. Her mind regularly spirals out of control, wondering what happened to her daughter which is quite disturbing reading at times, as she imagines quite horrible things.

I felt a flurry of emotions for Jenny, although it was mostly sympathy for her, I did find myself quite frustrated by her. As a professional woman in a doctoring occupation, her children treated her unfairly with cruel, nasty comments and accusing her of favouritism. She never stands up for herself and let them hurt her, much to my irritation.

The story is filled with many dislikable characters, mainly the Malcolm family and Naomi herself, who had quite a bitchy streak and wasn’t as innocent as Jenny had thought.

Written in a frank and gripping manner, the book flows at a fast pace, where everyone is suspect and nothing is quite as it seems. With a hauntingly creepy cover and intensity dripping from the pages, ‘Daughter’ is filled with many twists and turns and an unexpected ending that will leave you baffled and shocked in equal measures.

You can buy Daughter from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.