Thursday, July 9, 2015

Book Review: The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig

Members of the Vise Library were selected to review The Other Daughter.  We received a copy of Lauren Willig's book for an honest review.

About the book:

Raised by her widowed mother in genteel poverty in an isolated English village, for the past six years Rachel Woodley has been working in France as a nursery governess. When her mother unexpectedly dies, she returns to England to clear out the cottage, and finds a scrapbook full of cuttings from London society pages-all pictures of her supposedly deceased father, very much alive. He's an earl, socially prominent, with another daughter who is living a charmed life: a debutante, much photographed, and engaged to a rising Tory MP. Rachel's cousin confirms the horrible truth: her father is alive, with a legitimate, acknowledged family. 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 enters into an uneasy alliance with a mysterious man-about-town, who promises her access to her father. With his help, Rachel sets herself up in London under a new identity and 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 that Rachel herself might just be falling for her sister's fiance.
Rachel's father has been dead since she four years old - or so she thought.  A newspaper clipping that Rachel finds after the death of her mother completely shatters the life she was used to.  It turns out her father is alive and well with other children.  Trying to find answers from her cousin, she runs into Simon.  Simon overhears Rachel and her cousin David discussing the lies of Rachel's father.  He knows Rachel's family well and takes her under his wing to infiltrate their lives.  Simon and Rachel create a new persona and name for Rachel.  She is presented as a far off relation to Simon and calls her Vera.  At first she doesn't have a set plan on how to meet her father and her half sister, Olivia, or what she will do once she does.  However, the more and more she is around Olivia and her friends, the harder it is to hate her.  She even pities her at one point in the story.  Rachel (I mean Vera!) soon learns that everything is not as it seems and that everyone has secrets and hurts - including Simon.  Simon has his own reasons for helping Rachel and the more Rachel gets entrenched the more she loses who she really is.  This book has so many twists about the lives of everyone involved.  Will Rachel find out the truth and will she find the family she has missed since she was four years old?  This book will have you guessing at every turn about people's intentions.  I couldn't put this book down because I kept wanting to find out why Rachel's mother had lied to her and what would happen when Rachel finally confronts her father.  There is also a lot of witty banter between Rachel and Simon that is impossible not to enjoy as well.  This is a great story of revenge that is reminiscent of The Count of Monte Cristo.  Who doesn't like a good old fashioned revenge story?  This is Willig's best book outside of her Pink Carnation series!!
Buy the book:
       Barnes and Noble
      Parnassus Books

About the author:

Lauren Willig is the New York Times bestselling author of fifteen works of historical fiction. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages, awarded the RITA, Booksellers Best and Golden Leaf awards, and chosen for the American Library Association's annual list of the best genre fiction. After graduating from Yale University, she embarked on a PhD in English History at Harvard before leaving academia to acquire a JD at Harvard Law while authoring her "Pink Carnation" series of Napoleonic-set novels. She lives in New York City, where she now writes full time.

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