Review: The Other Daughter

23014679Title: The Other Daughter

Author: Lauren Willig

Rating: ★★★

Provided Synopsis: Raised in a poor yet genteel household, Rachel Woodley is working in France as a governess when she receives news that her mother has died, suddenly. Grief-stricken, she returns to the small town in England where she was raised to clear out the cottage…and finds a cutting from a London society magazine, with a photograph of her supposedly deceased father dated all of three month before. He’s an earl, respected and influential, and he is standing with another daughter-his legitimate daughter. Which makes Rachel…not legitimate. Everything she thought she knew about herself and her past-even her very name-is a lie.

Still reeling from the death of her mother, and furious at this betrayal, Rachel sets herself up in London under a new identity. There she insinuates herself into the party-going crowd of Bright Young Things, with a steely determination to unveil her father’s perfidy and bring his-and her half-sister’s-charmed world crashing down. Very soon, however, Rachel faces two unexpected snags: she finds she genuinely likes her half-sister, Olivia, whose situation isn’t as simple it appears; and she might just be falling for her sister’s fiancé…

Review: Word of warning: for the first fourth of this book I had my doubts. The story did not mesh with me in terms of connection to characters or amenability towards the slang of the Bright Young Things. So if you too find you have similar troubles, then I would advise to read on because the book really does improve once the plot begins to unravel the darkness that lurks behind the glittering façade presented by the characters.

The Other Daughter is the story of Rachel Woodley, who learns from a newspaper clipping discovered after her mother’s death that the father, whom she was told had died when she was four, is still alive. And not only is he alive, he is an earl with another family. Disbelief soon turns to anger for Rachel; under the force of her rage, however, there also remains the remnant of a four-year-old girl desperate to know her father had loved her and did think of her as the years went by. So with the help of man loosely connected to her uncle, Rachel masquerades as Vera Merton to place herself within the company of her father’s children to gain access to him.

As mentioned at the beginning of this review, the initial introduction of Rachel to the Bright Young Things set was not the easiest to get through. It is a series of parties, and empty conversations; I have always read characters from this time period and wished that I could be shown some depth, because I have always had to believe there is something there to a person. When The Other Daughter shows the truth behind the people, it became a story I was much more invested in. Emotions do exist for these characters, the most notable in my mind being the truth about CeCe and the two scenes in which Rachel comes face to face with her father.

When the truth behind what really happened to Rachel’s family twenty-three years ago is revealed, I was not too surprised for my thoughts since the beginning had fallen along the correct lines, even though I did not grasp the reasons. Transparency aside, I was still engaged with the unraveling of the mystery and motivations of all parties involved. I leave the book satisfied with the answers given. In conclusion, with the exception of the vapidity displayed by the Bright Young Things set along with the exclusion of true presence for Rachel’s sister despite her often in the same space, this book was a decent enough read that fans of Lauren Willig’s stories should enjoy.

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