Book Thoughts: The Lost Daughter

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The Lost Daughter (Also called The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes) – Diane Chamberlain – 2006 – Drama

In 1977, pregnant Genevieve Russell disappeared. Twenty years later, her remains are discovered and Timothy Gleason is charged with murder. But there is no sign of the unborn child.

CeeCee Wilkes knows how Genevieve died – because she was there. She also knows what happened to the missing infant, because two decades ago CeeCee made the devastating choice to raise the baby as her own.

Now Timothy Gleason is facing the death penalty, and CeeCee has another choice to make. Tell the truth and destroy her family. Or let an innocent man die to protect a lifetime of lies.

The story is interesting in that the majority of the book is told from Eve’s point of view, although there are also important sections told from CeeCee and Cory’s point of view. I particularly like the way Chamberlain moves from CeeCee to Eve’s point of view, which happens so naturally you forget what is happening. I particularly enjoyed CeeCee’s chapters, where most of the action of the plot takes place. I felt particularly sorry for her as she makes a bad choice with no parental figure to discuss it with at a time of life when everyone most needs that figure.

Although the situation is quite unusual it was easy to believe Eve’s problems and feel like it was a true story. There is a lot of growth within her character, although you could still see her teenage self even at the end of the book. For example, her feelings for Tim change a lot throughout the course of the novel as Eve learns more about what he has done, but you can still see how the way she felt for him as a teenager affects what she does in later life.
This book does make you think a lot about the death penalty and question your thoughts as you decide who you feel “deserves” the death penalty, and which of the characters you feel are not “guilty enough” to deserve that particular punishment. As a UK reader this isn’t something I often have to think about so it was interesting to read a book that makes you face the subject. I think this book is a good start if you want to explore novels with this as a subject.

As with so many of Diane Chamberlain’s books I really enjoyed the characterisation in this book. Her books aren’t always the strongest when it comes to plot but if you’re looking for plot over interesting characters and a book that makes you think, this book probably isn’t the one for you. It’s an interesting look at family dynamics when one of the family is living a lie, and that’s something I really like about the book.

The only thing I would have liked more about the book is if there had been a more solid reason for Cory to distance herself from the family. Her relationship with Eve didn’t make much sense as one moment she backed away from the family, which I felt wasn’t particularly well explored, and a few chapters later she came back to Eve. I’d have liked less time spent on the more trivial aspects of the plot, and more on the relationship between Eve and Cory as she grows older.

I always like the way that Diane Chamberlain’s books end. They are a little bit cliche but this one in particular tied up any questions you built throughout the book which is always satisfying.
I gave this book 5/5 stars on Goodreads. I’d recommend this book if you’re looking for a book that will make you think.

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