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Review of "The Other Daughter" by Lauren Willig

the other daughterLast week, I started a free trial of Audible.com and decided to use the opportunity to "read" Willig's standalone novel.  I love her Pink Carnation novels and since this took place in the 1920's I was ecstatic.  I don't know if I built it up in my head since I'd waited so long for it, but it wasn't what I expected.  That doesn't mean it is a bad book--it isn't.  It was just missing something.  I wish I knew what that was.

Rachel's world has been turned upside down.  On the heels of finding out that her mother is dead, she learns that the father she believed dead never really died and has been living with another family for the last 23 years.  Rachel isn't sure what she wants, but she has to find him so he can explain why he left the way he did.

 

My main issue with The Other Daughter is that Rachel isn't all that likable.  She doesn't know what she wants and spends a good portion of the book vacillating between getting revenge for what she sees as a slight on her and her mother and simply wanting answers. Does she want to make her father pay?  The brother and sister that she didn't know?  It was exhausting.

Then, there are the other characters.  Rachel's sister, Olivia, is a doormat because she didn't live up to her mother's expectations.  Olivia's fiancé is a douche to the 1000th degree and deserved to be shot for the way he treated Olivia and Rachel.  As for Simon, it is hard to tell what he wants most of the time.  We never get anything from his point of view, so all we know is what Rachel tells us.  Since she doesn't know him well neither do we.  He was the one thing I was as confused about as Rachel was.  He says he loves Rachel, but we don't feel it.  There is no slide into love for them.  I felt more of a connection between him and Olivia than there was between him and Rachel.  I was actually pulling for that relationship for most of the book.

What I did like: this wasn't a predictable novel by any means.  There was never a point at which I thought that I knew what was going to happen.  When I thought Willig was going to take the narrative left, she went right.  I love that.

The prose was also one of The Other Daughter's saving grace.  Willig does not know how to write a bad book.  It isn't possible.  Her words are indescribably great in everything she writes and this was no different.

Last, there is the narration by Nicola Barber.  This was my first audiobook, so I don't have anything to compare it to, but Ms. Barber was definitely a fun narrator.  One of the things that surprised me was the fact that she did voices.  None of the characters sounded exactly the same, although it was sometimes hard to tell the male characters apart because it seemed harder for her to vary her lower register.  I can't do any voices, so I don't hold that against her.

3.5 Stars

 

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