The Drowning Lesson | Book Review

Sunday, February 07, 2016

"It takes seconds to register that all the lights in the house are blazing. Adam is shouting, his voice low-pitched like an animal in pain. I start running. The shadows in our bedroom flicker differently: it takes me a moment to see that the curtains are torn, and moving in the slight wind. A glittering pile of glass lies in front of the window, a few jagged shards still lodged in the frame. The cot is empty."

I was a big fan of Jane Shemilt's first novel 'Daughter' - you can read my review on that here - So naturally I was really excited when I found this at Waterstones last year. I didn't need to think about it for long I mean with that description and knowing that I love Shemilt's writing it was clear I had to pick it up! And I wasn't disappointed! It took me three days to read these 383 pages and I would have been quicker if it hadn't been a working week! It's such a page turner! 

The story, much like the one in 'Daughter' is told from the perspective of Emma Jordan, mum wife and doctor at a London hospital. Another similarity to 'Daughter' can be found in the way the chapters switch between the time before baby Sam's birth, the time the whole family lives happily in Botswana - where Emma's husband Adam, a doctor himself, is sent to do some medical research - and the time after Sam's disappearance. We learn a lot about Emma in those early chapters, about her constant need to win, even against her husband, how her career seems to take up more of her time then her children do and in general I felt like I didn't really like her one bit (another similarity to Shemilt's first novel), especially after reading about her reaction to baby Sam's little 'imperfection'. We learn about all the little cracks in the Jordan family's seemingly perfect and successful lives. Then the perspective switches, the family moved to Botswana and Emma is more content, she likes their new way of life in Africa, but still Emma's oldest daughter is behaving strangely, which annoyingly in this novel is mainly ignored or just weirdly explained away. Then there's the night the novel starts off with - the night of the disappearance. The Jordans face the most difficult time in their lives and it changes them all and it threatens to tear the family apart.

I found the book to be very well researched, the style of writing is just as good as it was in Shemilt's debut and all in all I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It had me hooked from the beginning - I never wanted to stop reading, always hoping that the next few pages would bring the sought after clue as to where baby Sam was or what had happened to him. The pain of the family that had lost their child in a strange country and had no idea if officials could be trusted and whether they would ever see their child again, could be felt through every word on these pages - just like a good book should! However, I already mentioned that sometimes obvious problems with the children were mentioned but not noticed as what they were by the parents.. which are moments I find incredibly annoying as a reader..

I'm gonna stop myself here before I give too much of the story away and just finish by saying that I really really enjoyed this book and would absolutely recommend it to anybody who loves a compelling read and a bit of a thrill! I give this book:


Did you read 'The Drowning Lesson'? What did you think? Can you recommend any books you think I might like?

Lots of Love,
Jess xx

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