Genres: Historical, Fiction
Published by St. Martin's Press Source: Publisher
July 21, 2015 | Pages: 304
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Rachel Woodley is working in France as a governess when she receives news that her mother has died suddenly. Grief-stricken, she returns to England to clear out the family cottage and finds a cutting from a London society magazine, with a photograph of her supposedly deceased father dated all of three months before. He's a respected and influential earl, 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.
I received The Other Daughter from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest review. This does not influence my opinions or the content of my review. This review contains affiliate links and is in compliance with FTC guidelines.
Having read all of the Pink Carnation series, as well as The Ashford Affair, I’ve been eagerly anticipating Lauren Willig’s latest stand-alone novel, The Other Daughter. Once again, not disappointed! The bustling, Bohemian life of London in the 1920s jumps off the pages as Rachel and Simon, her eager accomplice, visit nightclubs and parties peppered with glitterati from the era such as David Tennant and Evelyn Waugh. Rachel learns to gesture with a cigarette holder while not smoking, and is careful not to drink to excess as she learns as much about her father and his family as possible. Raised with traditional Victorian values, Rachel is overwhelmed by the rampant wastefulness and hedonism at first, but soon learns to make senseless small talk, and is surprised by how easily she lies about herself. As the story unfolds Rachel learns of the many relationships linking this group of people: school friends, former fiances, cousins, and realizes how difficult it is for someone to break through these traditional ties.
I liked Rachel because she did not want to destroy or expose her father, she just wanted answers as to what happened twenty years earlier. Why didn’t her father return from his trip, with Rachel being told he had died while away? Why did her mother lie all those years? Did her father ever love them? She is very careful to keep any information about true self from Olivia, protecting a young woman who already seems fragile. Simon was a great wing-man, orchestrating her physical transformation and having entry into the places she needed to go, and people she needed to meet. His biting wit in giving her advice and describing the aristocrats and the hangers-on was funny and piercing. Without giving any spoilers, I have to say that I felt very sorry for her father the Earl, he seemed to have a very lonely life after he left his little family in Netherwell village.
Although romance is not the genre of The Other Daughter, I would have liked more development on the romance front to make the story more realistic. It seemed to be a lot of insta-love in two situations. The Comedy of Errors effect was in full throttle, with everyone confusing filial love for romantic love and motives for past actions being seen in a new framework. More development of Olivia would help explain her attitudes and motives, as well as her relationship with Jack, her fiance.
For those who have loved Lauren Willig for years, this is a must-read, as she is bringing us into a new era in history, one equally as complex and full of hidden motives as the Napoleonic era of the Pink Carnation. This would make a great movie; I could just see the sets and costumes glittering in contrast to the sweet English cottage where Rachel was raised. I would be interested in a sequel to The Other Daughter now that Rachel has her answers and has begun a new phase in her life. I wonder what such a strong, level-headed young woman could make of herself during these times.