Monday, July 20, 2015

ARC Review: The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig

Title: The Other Daughter
Author: Lauren Willig
Published: July 21, 2015 by St. Martin's Press (Macmillan)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

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 fiancĂ©... 

From Lauren Willig, author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Ashford Affair, comes The Other Daughter, a page-turner full of deceit, passion, and revenge.

**** I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ****

Lauren Willig is an author who has been on my list for awhile now. I have a good friends who loves her Pink Carnation series and every time I see a book that she has written I think how it sounds like something I would really enjoy. So when I saw this on Netgalley, I immediately requested it because not only am I interested in the author but the plot sounded like something I would enjoy. And I did in fact I enjoy The Other Daughter. It's a character-driven historical fiction novel with a layered and complex plot disguised as a fast and fun summer read.

When I first started reading The Other Daughter, it felt like a fast and fun summer read and on the one hand it was. The first part of the book is a a breezy story of London in the 1920's's and the Bright Young Things, the offspring of the wealthy elite who had been through war and are now ready to party and have a good time to forget their troubles and frankly show off their wealth. Lauren Willing does a great job of getting you swept up in that world as Rachel immerses herself in it. From the parties and clubs with free-flowing champagne, to the backless ballgowns with sequins with dropwaists, to the mansions and estates it all jumped off the page making for an interesting setting for the book. But it's a subtle kind of historical setting. That may be because that was not the focus of this book, it was just the backdrop that allowed for the rest of the book to happen.

There's a lot of layers to the plot of this book. On the one hand it's a breezy story of the 1920's but it's also a story about a women finding out who she is and where she belongs. That was probably my favorite part of the story. When Rachel finds out that her father is still alive it calls into question who she is on a personal level but it also makes her wonder what her life would have been like if things were differently. So throughout most of the book Rachel is on a mission to connect with the family that she didn't know she had, seeing if she belonged in their world, and maybe getting a little revenge for them leaving her behind. But the stakes were still pretty high with Rachel's secret about who she really is. That adds an interesting layer of conflict to the book as she interacts with all the other characters. But it also adds to a layer of dramatic irony for us as the reader. As the book developed, it was a much deeper story than I expected as it became more about family and relationships.

And because the heart of this story is about Rachel's desire to find out who she is and where she belongs. It wasn't really a coming-of-age story but it was really a very character-driven novel. And because of that, Rachel and her characterization had to carry a lot of the book and that was okay with me. I really liked Rachel as a character. It sounds cliche to call her a freespirit but it kind of works. She thinks for herself and sometimes acts without thinking. She's not necessarily tied down by the conventions of the time but she has her own ideals. In the face of the fact that everything she knows to be true is actually a lie she stays true to herself, her ideals, and her personality throughout the book. I usually love some great character development but what I really appreciated here is that Rachel did stay true to herself when everything around her was changing. It was refreshing and really added an interesting layer to the concept of finding out who you are and where you belong. And all the secondary characters were just as complex, every person that Rachel interacted with seemed to have secrets and their own agenda, whether it aligned with hers or not. It made for an interesting "the grass is greener on the other side" kind of thing and further added a compelling layer to the story.

But because there were so many different layers to this book, I found the general tone to be a little disconnected. As I said, when the book first started I found it to be more a light read. The pacing was a little slower in the beginning but I still seemed to breeze through it while it still captured my interest. Then about halfway through it hit you with some serious things that changed the whole tone of the book. A few of these plot points were left unresolved and looking back on it, I'm slightly confused about them. Then about 3/4 of the way through the book the tone changed again and the book felt a little bit more like a romance. None of these elements of the story were bad, they all worked together to make an interesting story but it made for some odd changes in tone at times.

But all in all, The Other Daughter was a fast and fun historical fiction novel that had a engaging and layered plot, and complex characters that left me satisfied. It's a character-driven story about a women coming to terms with who she wants to be in a changing world.

I give The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. If you are looking for a little bit of a more complex beach read that has a subtle historical setting and complex characters that you can root for then definitely pick this up. If you like historical fiction set during the 1920's then check this out.

Read this if you like
The Luxe by Anna Goderson
A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
At Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

Have you read The Other Daughter? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. Hmmm... this is the first I've heard of this book (or this author). I'm not really sure whether this is something I'd read! I do like the idea of a 1920s beach read, surprisingly. It seems like it might be a little confusing with the switch in tone between the two halves. It seems like you really loved it though! I love it when characters are really well done and it sounds like Rachel was! I'll have to keep this one on my list just in case the mood strikes me. Great review!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

  2. This sounds like a good book! I've just added it to my TBR. (And, of course, it's always fun to read a book where the main character shares your name!) Great review!

  3. I have this to review, and I want to get on reading it soon. At least it sounds like I'll enjoy it! Great review!