By Jane Shemilt
Had you asked Jenny Malcolm early in November whether she had a good life, she might have said, “A nearly perfect one.”
Being a full-time doctor keeps her busy. Her noted neurosurgeon husband is equally busy with research, conferences and a heavy schedule. Her three kids — twins Ed and Theo and daughter Naomi — are doing well as is the artwork she enjoys creating in her spare time. True, she can’t always take her kids’ calls, and often postpones conversations with her aging and increasingly forgetful mother, but she juggles.
When Naomi fails to come home from a school theater production, Jenny’s perfect life cracks. As the police investigate, every assumption she has about her husband, her children and her life comes into question.
Recalling the weeks and months before Naomi disappears, Jenny remembers the racy, unfamiliar clothing tossed around Naomi’s room, the sly half smiles, the evasiveness and irritability. Her husband’s alibi doesn’t stand up. The police take a hard look at one of Theo’s art projects featuring nude photos of Naomi. Jenny’s son Ed shouts at her that she didn’t really see any of them.
The suspense builds as Shemilt jumps forwards and backwards in time to reveal the story. Each new clue uncovered by the police, calls into question Jenny’s understanding of her own daughter, marriage and relationship to her sons.
Was Naomi abducted? Was she seduced by an older man? Did she run away? Is she dead? Was she hurt?
Shemilt is masterful in unfolding the story with tension and suspense even as police progress stalls. This is the story of a modern tragedy of a life half-lived and children not as fully loved as they needed to be.
About the Author: Jane Shemilt
The parallels between DAUGHTER and Jane Shemilt’s life are striking. She is a general practitioner living in Bristol with her husband, a professor of neurosurgery, and five children.
She earned a joint bachelor of science degree in psychology and physiology at Bedford College, London University before earning her medical degree with honors at the Royal Free Medical School.
While working full-time as a doctor, she earned a master of arts degree in creative writing from Bristol University.
DAUGHTER, her first novel, was shortlisted for the Janklow and Nesbit award and the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize.