How do you think you’d react to knowing that the teacher who abducted your fifteen year old daughter six years ago was about to be released from prison? Rosalind was an anxious mother before Stephanie went missing and her fears have only escalated in the intervening period, but Stephanie is no longer a child and she never really talked about what happened in the days the police were searching for her.
The Daughter’s Secret is told in part in the present, counting down to the release of Nathan Temperley and in part from the past when Stephanie was missing. This could easily have been confusing but the author handles this aspect is extremely well with the switches in viewpoint being carefully considered. We see the damage that has been done over the longer term to this seemingly perfect family with their beautiful house, high disposable income and the requisite two children. In the immediate aftermath the parents are concentrating on hoping that she will return and although there are minor disagreements between Ros and her husband Dan at the time, it is their inability to move past the event after she returns that causes the most damage. We see the contrast in their behaviour to Stephanie and each other that lead to the point where we meet them six years later.
Stephanie has moved away from St Albans to London to live with Sarah, her best friend from school but when she turns to alcohol Sarah becomes alarmed and Ros and Dan intervene. With both Ros and Dan keeping secrets and their reluctance to discuss the missing time with Stephanie, or she with them, the reader has to wonder if this is the best… The tension resulting from the impasse between the parents and daughter is broken by some touching scenes with Steph’s brother giving the reader another point of view.
Of course what we all want to know is does Steph meet up with Nate on his release from prison. Was this in fact a case of true love as he proclaimed at the time? This alone had me turning the pages faster as the release date came closer and those secrets start tumbling out and demanding their consequences.
I wasn’t particularly enamoured by any of the characters in this book, all have flaws and on the whole they were believable, even Dan whose behaviour in wanting someone else to deal with his daughter had a strong resonating truth about it. The fact is in real life people don’t always think before they speak and in the midst of a difficult time the path that is easiest at the moment can be awfully appealing, perhaps even more so to a family that appears to have the perfect life.
This storyline isn’t a million miles away from a fairly recent big news story in the UK but the author hasn’t simply rehashed the facts from this known news story, the feeling I got is that she used it as a starting point and explored the possible cause and effect for her characters.
I am usually reluctant to talk about endings to books as I hate giving even minor spoilers to the story but this tale had a completely satisfactory dénouement; the ending is complete but the author has wisely not tried too hard to tie up everything in a neat bow and it is left to our imagination to determine what the future may hold for the characters.
I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book from the publishers Orion ahead of the publication date of 13 August 2015.