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This is a review of the 2009 book "The Lost Daughter" by Dian Chamberlain which was originally published in 2006 under the title "The secret life of Cee Cee Wilkes". The book is intriguing and full of mystery and suspense and covers three decades of the life of Cee Cee Wilkes.
A bit about the story
The year is 1977. Cee Cee Wilkes is a vulnerable 17 year old who lost her mother aged 12 and has been in the care system since then. Her father is off the scene and she is desperately lonely. Reasonably intelligent, she dreams of going to University to study social work but while she saves up to do this she works in the local diner. One of her regulars is a student, Tim who shows interest and she falls in love with him. He asks her a big favour, help to kidnap the wife of an influential governor to influence the release of his sister whom has been wrongly imprisoned and faces the death sentence. Cee Cee agrees to help as she believes it will help her keep Tim close to her and she has to live with the consequences thereafter.
The book starts in modern day and covers a couple, Corinne and Ken who are not getting on with each other despite there being a baby on the way. The first seven pages show a desperately unhappy woman unsure of her next action before the book restarts in 1977 with Cee Cee's story.
Cee Cee commits such a bad crime that she has to go underground and completely change her identity. She is only 17 yet becomes another person entirely. Luckily for her, the newly titled Eve has few family and friends from her first life so it's not as complicated as this would originally seem. She believes she is doing the right thing for Baby Cory and she is linked up with Marian who helps her to start life under the new name of Eve. Eve is tormented about the events on the night of the kidnapping and lives the legacy of guilt over what happened.
It's difficult to pinpoint who is to blame in the book - which is a sign of a really good writer - ultimately Tim and his brother hatched the kidnap plot but Cee Cee did not have to participate in it. The family of the kidnapped Genevive will never come to terms with her disappearance as she leaves behind a husband and daughter.
Although a lot of the story refers to law, it is not all about the kidnapping case, it is more about Eve's life. The book did remind me a little of a Jody Picoult in that there is moral dilemma as to what is right and wrong here. Whilst some allowance for naivety and age can be taken into account, the bigger issue of whether the death penalty is appropriate or fair on anyone is covered many times in this story.
I enjoyed this book far more than I was expecting to and was sucked into it from the start. It really was not a predictable story line and I have only hinted at what happens here as it would really spoil it for future readers to enlarge any more on the content of the book.
I would recommend this book to avid readers, 522 pages flew by for me and I had to take the last 50 pages away with me for an overnight stay as I couldn't bear to not finish it! The book also came with some further discussion points, Q &A and meet the author so you could dig a bit deeper into her motivations for writing this particular novel. A full five out of five stars from me.
The Lost Daughter - Diane Chamberlain
Kindle Editions: 2684 KB
RRP £7.99, but offers available on Amazon and elsewhere.
I downloaded this book for my Kindle when I saw it on promotion and I was looking for something different to read. Unfortunately my ability to buy books far exceeds the time I have to actually read them and it took me a while to get around to it.
The plot (no spoilers, don't worry, all events described occur in the early stages of the book) starts in the present day when we see Corinne Elliot watching her mother on the news. We then go back to the Seventies when a young, parentless waitress CeeCee Wilkes gets involved with an older man - Tim Gleason - and is persuaded to help him free his sister, who has been incorrectly convicted of murder and on death row. Gleason and his brother decide to persuade Governor Russell to overturn their sister's sentence by kidnapping his wife. It is CeeCee who would watch her whilst negotiations took place. Unfortunately Genevieve Russell is eight months pregnant and dies in childbirth whilst CeeCee is alone with her. The events that follow shape CeeCee and Genevieve's daughter for the rest of their lives.
I thought the story was original and thought-provoking. Although the situation CeeCee finds herself in is unlikely to occur for the rest of us, I still thought the character easy to relate to and found myself wondering what I would do in her situation. Chamberlain has been compared to Jodi Picoult, but I have only read one of hers before, so can't really say if this is the case. Certainly there is no courtroom/legal aspect, but there is a well-conceived plot, which flows well and keeps you interested. There are twists, but I didn't find them predictable, Admittedly I wasn't trying to predict the outcome, but sometimes the 'signposts' in a novel hit you over the head until you've figured out where the book is going, this wasn't the case here. There is also good, fluid writing which engages the reader and keeps you turning the pages and thinking "just one more chapter".
As much as I loved it I am not going to pretend it is a literary classic, it is not the sort of book that would be nominated for a prize. It is just a good novel, female-centric, and would make a good holiday read. When I read this I was ill and struggling to find a book that engaged me - everything was either to heavy/slow-going, or too trashy - but this book kept my attention and helped me get my reading mojo back and I read it in just a few days. If you are looking for a light, but non-trashy read, then this engaging book may be for you. I would certainly consider reading any other books by this author.
My Kindle edition did contain a few errors, as is typical.
I was given this book as a present by my husband. I had never heard of her before and was at first unsure about the book. Once I had finished the book I couldn't thank my husband enough. It was a wonderful read with so much depth to it. I have since gone on to read more of Diane Chamberlains books.
Diane Chamberlain is an American award winning author who writes adult fiction books, that I feel are aimed more at the female market. Before starting up as an author she was a psychotherapist which I feel affects the way in which she writes. This is a good thing. Diane has rheumatoid arthritis, this personel experience is also featured in this book. The lost daughter was also released as Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes.
The book follows the life of 16 year old CeeCee Wilkes, the woman she becomes, the relationships she has and the family she creates.
Chapters are not the only thing that splits up the book, as it is also split in to character tales. Following characters CeeCee, Corinne and Eve.
We begin in what appears to be in the present day where we meet, pregnant and engaged Corinne. We also hear of Tim Gleason who has just been sentenced for a murder back in 1977.
By chapter 2 we are back in 1977. Here we meet 16 year old CeeCee. She is working in a cafe trying to save up to further her education. CeeCee has had a troubled upbringing and sadly lost her mother at the age of 12. Her mother knew she was dying and had wrote her letters to try to guide her through life. These letters appear in the book. It's while she is working in the cafe she meets Tim Gleason. An older man who she soon falls desperatly in love with.
Love is blind as it is always said, and Tim convinces CeeCee to help him and his brother with a plan they have, unfortunatly for CeeCee this plan goes wrong and has some heartbreaking consequences.
The book then follows CeeCee through twenty years of her life. Showing as how CeeCee has coped with the aftermath of that plan and the life she now leads, until we are brought back to where the book began. It is here she has to make the decision, to let Tim Gleason go down, or to tell the truth about what really happen back in 1977. What does she do, let the man she once foolishly loved go down for murder or tell the truth and risk losing everything she has. The book then briefly follows what happened after her decision.
There are so many twists and turns in this book, it is a must read. I don't want to give to much away but the ending won't be what you are expecting. There are so many possible endings to the book, as there are many points where the author could have left things but doesn't. In my eyes this is a good thing as it keeps us as readers wondering whats round the corner or the turn of the page. However some may feel the book is being dragged out.
The book also deals with major issues like the death penalty in America, showing different views on the matter. At the end of the novel, in the back pages of the book, there is a read all about it section. This section includes a closer look at the death penalty. This really makes you question what is right and wrong.
I liked how the author used her own life experiences to create her characters, I feel this makes the characters seem more real, easier to connect with.
The way in which the author writes helps put the reader into the characters shoes. This gives us the chance to look at things from the characters point of view instead of an outsiders point of view. This helps us relate to the main character CeeCee and although most people will never experience the things she does we are still able to relate to aspects of her personality like her vulnerability.
It made me see that some times people to or are involved with bad things but this doesn't mean they are bad people, just caught up in circumstances they feel they can't control.
Secrets fill this book, will they all come out?
The author has clearly put in alot of time effort and research into this book, reward her efforts with a read of this book. I did and I don't regret a minute spent on it.
Diane Chamberlain was not an author I was familiar with when this book came into my possession. I have since found out that she is a reasonably prolific author and that this book, The Lost Daughter, was also released under the title The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes.
CeeCee Wilkes is a naive 16 year old girl trying to make an independent way in the world after a difficult childhood. Her father never figured in her life and her strong, capable mother died from cancer at the age of 29 leaving her only child, at 12, to face the world alone. CeeCee spent the next few years in various foster care environments of varying suitability but we meet her as she is working as a waitress to save money to continue her education.
Tim Gleason is a suave 22 year old student who frequents the cafe where CeeCee works. She is immediately taken with his staggering green eyes, his passion for his study, especially in relation to the judicial system and the death penalty and his obvious maturity and charm. CeeCee can't believe her luck when they start a relationship and he seems to genuinely love her and encourages her in her academic pursuit, even helping her financially.
Unfortunately love blinds CeeCee to the absurdity of the situation when Tim encourages her to help him and his brother with an idea that they have. She is swept along with their righteous enthusiasm and before long she finds herself in a situation more serious and frightening than she could ever have envisaged.
Things happen rapidly and before she realises it she is no longer CeeCee Wilkes but Eve Elliott, a new mum in a new town with her life ahead of her. Does your past always affect your future or can you really learn to live again and leave your demons behind?
I must admit when I saw the cover of this book, a picture of a young girl with painted toe-nails, and read the title I immediately thought that this was another book about a difficult childhood and I wasn't keen. I didn't even read most of the blurb on the back and put it on the bookshelf. However whilst searching for a new book to read I pulled it off the shelf and saw "for fans of Jodi Picoult this is a must read", having enjoyed some of Jodi Picoults books before they started to bore me I thought I may as well give this one a try.
The story is written by focusing on different characters at a time and the beginning chapter is an introduction to the story but it is a long way into the book before that becomes apparent and all of the threads start to pull together.
On the surface this book started out as a love story but the author cleverly managed to make the reader intrigued by giving hints that perhaps not everything was as it seemed. As the story progresses it becomes more complicated but also more intriguing and so becomes a really gripping read. I found I really struggled to put this book down as I just couldn't predict what was going to happen next. It was obvious that at any point things could suddenly change and that the course of the characters lives would alter dramatically but it was impossible to predict how they would react.
This novel is paced perfectly. The scene setting at the beginning is slow and descriptive. We come to know all about CeeCee and her past, we are introduced to the letters her mother left for after she died and we realise she is a lonely, unloved child who is trying to establish herself in the adult world. Her character is wonderfully depicted and very believable and her responses to situations seemed very likely. Tim is described as a model student having to deal with a brother who is suffering problems after Vietnam. The author portrays him as lovable and intelligent but also cleverly manages to get the reader to have their doubts about his character. The pace then starts to pick up and this is directly in line with the way that CeeCee is starting to lose control of the situation as her life starts to be manipulated.
As CeeCee makes the change to Eve she is determined that she will be a stronger person. The pace slows again as we follow her reasonably mundane life with her daughter Cory and her relationship with a new man. She returns to education and eventually becomes a counsellor for troubled teens, a job she always wanted. Her strive to be a perfect mother after losing her own has a strong impact on her daughter, is it possible to love someone too much?
Suddenly events start to happen that have a huge impact on Eve, affecting her health and her happiness. She realises that she is totally in control of her life but that she also has the power to alter the life or death course of someone else's. The tension at this point really mounts and the story moves quickly and unpredictably towards its dramatic conclusion.
This book was a really interesting read. There were so many factors to the story that made me think about other matters as well as just the basic storyline. The United States still has the death penalty and this had a direct impact on the how Tim felt about the justice system. CeeCee decided to build a new life for herself, how easy is that to do at such a young age and is it really possible to forget your past? Is a mother responsible for all the personality aspects of her child; is it nurture or nature that makes us who we are? At the end of the day is honesty always the best policy? How far will people go to help or protect their loved ones and at what cost?
I would certainly recommend this book. It is an intriguing story that captures the reader early on and has you gripped until the final page. I will now actively seek out another book by Diane Chamberlain and I hope it is just as good.
Last month my friend visited and stayed a night at my home, so that we could go out for a meal and spend some time together before she left to go and live in Mumbai, India for several years. Before she went we exchanged books. I gave her two, no more, bearing in mind excess luggage weight. She had given me two nice fairly thick books. She showed me one and remarked that it wasn't her usual type of thing, and probably not mine, but she had enjoyed it. Although we have been friends for decades, and went to secondary school together, I'm not sure that our taste in reading is that similar, so I said thanks, always grateful for a read, but doubtful that this would be a good read for me.
When I had finished the book I had been reading, I had a better look at the blurb on the back of this book, 'The Lost Daughter.' I considered this book, written by an American author, and taking place in the states, would be about a murder, probably gory and not my sort of thing at all. However, I thought I'd read the first couple of pages, as I can nearly always tell by then whether I will like a book or not. Well, my thoughts had been entirely wrong on this book and I found that I became 'hooked' almost immediately. In fact this book isn't gory, it's more of a tale of choices made and their consequences. It shows how you can quickly become too involved and reach a point of no return.
I hadn't read anything prior to this book, by Diane Chamberlain, or in fact even heard of her. I skimmed through the information about this author before reading the book, but I was so impressed by this book and the author's insight that, on completing the story, I re read these three paragraphs and also enjoyed reading more about the author contained towards the back of the book.
I discovered that Diane Chamberlain, is an award winning writer and, before becoming a published author, she was a psychopherapist who mainly worked with adolescents. She suffers with rheumatoid arthritis which has given her first hand background for this book. Not a good way to0 get your information, unfortunately. Her background in psychology would have been invaluable in this book.
The book, though not the story, begins in Raleigh, North Carolina, where we are introduced to Corinne, who is in the early stages of pregnancy, and her live in lover, Ken. Corinne has some emotional issues and is unsure whether the pregnancy should proceed. Corinne's fiance, works for a news channel and is deeply involved with a murder trial. Ken receives a message from his boss to say he has been removed from this prestigious case. He is shocked and angry. When the couple turn on their television they are shocked to see Corinne's mother being interviewed by a news team with regard to this trial.
Twenty years ago, Genevieve Russell, heavily pregnant with her second child, and wife to Governor Russel, had been kidnapped. Nothing has been heard of her in all this time until her body is found buried in a shallow grave in woodland. There is no sign of the unborn child.
One of the kidnappers, Tim Gleeson had been living, 'underground' and has now been, 'unearthed.' He denies murder but everything points to him being guilty and so it is likely that with a guilty verdict he will probably be sentenced to death.
But someone, Cee Cee wilkes, a naive and needy sixteen year old was witness to the events that took place on that fateful day. Now, years later, living a settled life, with a different name and identity, she faces a life changing dilemma. Should she come out of the woodwork or stay quiet and preserve the equilibrium of her and her family's life? What would you do? If she goes public she could destroy her life and that of those around her. But can she continue to carry the burden of guilt?
So we travel back and learn about Cee Cee (now Eve) through the events that occurred, and we read the letters that her terminally ill mother wrote, hoping to guide her daughter through the years when she would be motherless. Cee Cee has been naive to say the least and tricked into doing something that will change her life greatly. I felt so frightened for her, but not only her. So many are affected by her decision.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will have to email my friend, in India, and tell her off. Because of my total enjoyment of this book, I have read into the early hours, as I found it so difficult to put down. Yes, it is different to my usual read but, I can honestly say it's the best book I've read in a long time. I loved the author's style. She had me enthralled from the start. I found much of the book tense and exciting and many of the main characters likeable. I really cared for Cee Cee and wanted to guide her. I feel she was wronged as much as was wronged against, but you must read this book and judge for yourself.
This novel touches upon the death penalty. The author states in her notes at the back of this book that she is an opponent of capital punishment but insists she wasn't making any staement in her book for or against it. She says,
'I "used" Tim's fury over the death penalty as a way to make him a more loving and wounded person to Cee Cee, whom he was trying to coax to his side.' I would agree with this as she writes a very balanced story throughout, always showing all sides.
This paperback was given to me but the price on the back is £6.99 and it's published by Mira books. See, www.mirabooks.co.uk. The edition I have been reading features interesting reading group extras.
Browsing in my local library one afternoon, with no idea of what I wanted to read, I came across The Lost Daughter by Diane Chamberlin. I'd not come across the author before but the blurb at the back of the book intrigued me enough to borrow it and I wasn't disappointed.
The Lost Daughter tells the story of CeeCee Wilkes, starting in present day USA, where there is a big news story as a body has been discovered in some woods. This turns out to be Genevieve Russell, the pregnant wife of Governor Russell, who went missing in 1977. A man named Timothy Gleason has been charged with her murder and is facing the death penalty. However there is no sign of the unborn child. CeeCee knows how Genevieve died, as she was there, helping in a kidnapping that went wrong. At the age of just 16 CeeCee makes the devastating decision to raise the child as her own and has spent the remaining 20 years looking over her shoulder.
The story flicks between modern day and CeeCee as a teenager, where she is working hard in a café to save up for college. In some books this moving between past and present can be confusing, but not in this case. One of her customers is Timothy Gleason, a student at the nearby college, who pays her a lot of attention, and the two become an item. We learn a bit about CeeCee's past, how she lost her mother to cancer a few years earlier and had been passed from care home to care home. This I felt highlighted her vulnerability and she craved attention, which Gleason could see and took advantage of. However Gleason had his own agenda, and after a few months tells CeeCee about his sister who is on death row for a murder that wasn't her fault. He convinces her to help out with the kidnapping of the Governors wife, whom he will use as a bargaining tool to get his sister released. CeeCee is reluctant but loves Tim and agrees.
Later, when things have gone horribly wrong, CeeCee realises that she has been used and we feel CeeCee's sense of betrayal. I found myself feeling pretty angry at the way she'd been treated but also frustration at her naivety as I could see it coming. I thought that the decision to raise the baby as her own was incredibly brave for someone so young but I also feared for her. CeeCee spends the next few years looking over her shoulder, expecting to get caught, and some of this rubs off on the young child who has a lack of self-confidence and fear of trying new things. She eventually meets a guy, settles down and has a child of her own. As the years pass by, CeeCee and her husband build a life for themselves and their daughters. However with the breaking news her past seems to be catching up with her and CeeCee realises that she alone can save Timothy Gleason but in doing so is likely to destroy her world.
I thought the story was fast paced and it had me gripped from the start. The chapters were short and easy to read which for me is great as I don't have much time, but like to read a couple of chapters before bed. The book for me raised mixed emotions. I was appalled by what CeeCee had taken part in but at the same time could see her vulnerability and feared for her, hoping that she would be ok. I thought that even though she'd made some bad choices in life deep down CeeCee was a good person who battles between doing what is right and hurting those she loves the most. At times I really admired her for the brave decisions that she made. The book not only focuses on CeeCee but also on the effect CeeCee's decisions have on her eldest child - the lost daughter. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this and would recommend to others.
" By telling the truth, she'll lose her daughter,
By living a lie, she'll lose herself"
When Tim Gleason is found guilty of the kidnap and murder of Genevieve Russell and the presumed murder of her unborn baby (whose remains were never found) twenty years previously, it seems certain he will face the death penalty.
But CeeCee Wilkes knows he didn't kill her...she was there. She also knows where the baby is, now a young adult in her twenties. Because 2 decades ago, she made the decision to bring her up as her own daughter.
With a man facing execution for a murder he didn't commit, can CeeCee keep her terrible secret to herself any longer, even if it means she will lose the family she has held dear for so many years?
I've had this book for ages now, and in fact I picked it up a few months ago, read a page and then moved onto something else as it didn't really catch me. I should have given it one or two pages more that time, and then I would have found what a fantastic and compelling story it actually is.
The book begins when CeeCee is just 16-years-old. Having lost her mother to breast cancer when she was twelve and with no other family, she has grown up unloved and alone in foster homes. It becomes clear quickly that CeeCee is desperate for love, and when Tim Gleason comes along you can almost feel the adoration she has for him yourself. His manipulation of CeeCee is so subtle and believable that it's easy to see how she becomes involved in such a horrific situation.
By rights, as a mother, I should hate CeeCee for the decisions she makes, but I just couldn't. She is written with such depth and feeling I found it impossible to. Diane Chamberlain portrays a grieving, lonely and vulnerable girl so beautifully and realistically that it's only sympathy I felt towards her as she is swept into a situation that sees her fleeing a crime with a baby that isn't hers.
There are a host of other brilliantly drawn characters throughout the book. Jack, CeeCee's husband in the future, is lively and jumps of the page, capturing my heart with his devotion and gentle kindness. Marion, saviour to CeeCee and surrogate mother when she really needs one, provides a stable, reliable and down to earth character who is both wise and strong. I loved Marion's strength and compassion for CeeCee and was glad that she had found her. The authors skilful way of turning the tables on what at first seems simply right and wrong means that the people who should gain my sympathy end up being the ones I liked the least. I found each and everyone believable, and felt the author created them perfectly, with complexities flaws that made them absolutely human.
I also really liked the style with which Chamberlain narrates this book. It's written in the third person, although mainly focusing on CeeCee and later her daughter, Cory. Despite being a quite lengthy 530 pages, the chapters are kept really short, sometimes just a couple of pages. As the book spans almost 30 years, I found the short, sharp chapters really kept the story flowing quickly, and didn't get bogged down in over detail. This had me racing through the pages as quickly as I could, never getting bored and skimming, and also meant that I was always near a good point to take a break. The author uses a lot of dialogue throughout the book, and as the characters are so well drawn, it worked very well and really brought them to life.
Each chapter of the first third of the book begins with an extract from letters written to CeeCee by her mother when she knew she dying. Her aim was for CeeCee to open them at certain points in her life, and for her mother to offer support and guidance when CeeCee may need it after her death. As events unfold, the letters become somewhat ironic, as it seems a young and naïve CeeCee misinterprets the advice and heads towards catastrophe. They were all the more poignant, as I could read the message that was intended and also understand how in her vulnerability CeeCee uses the advice offered unwisely. These were very touching and made me feel all the more empathetic and sad for CeeCee.
It may seem as if I have given a lot of the plot away here, but I'd just like to assure you that I've revealed nothing more than what is found on the back of the book or within the first few pages. This isn't a murder mystery, crime or suspense novel. The story is what happens between and how one foolish and misjudged action affects CeeCee, her family and everyone else involved. The book examines how responsible we are when young and vulnerable and how this shapes us. It looks at the death penalty as a punishment and whether some things can be right, even though they are wrong. And it questions whether biology makes us who we are, or whether someone unrelated can hold the same bond with a child as it's biological ones. Mostly it looks at identity, how without it we are really nothing and no matter how we try our own identity is something we can fight against but never conquer.
Diane Chamberlain has been compared to Jodi Picoult, and I can see why, as she writes about circumstances that can make you question your morals and beliefs, and has you rethinking what is actually right and wrong. However I would go as far to say that I enjoyed this author more. I found her writing compelling and consistently engaging. I never felt bored or bogged down in detail and felt incredibly moved by the whole book. This is one that will have you thinking long after you close the pages. My best read of the year so far, I can't wait to pick up Diane Chamberlains newest book, The Bay At Midnight.
The Lost Daughter by Diane Chamberlain
Published by Mira Books 2009
After finishing the whole series of Jodi Picoult books I didn't quite know which way to go as I thought that nothing would measure up to her amazing heart rendering novels. Whilst browsing Amazon for new authors 'The Lost Daughter' by Diane Chamberlain popped up in my recommended reads. She was also described as the next Jodi Picoult so I reserved it at the library and went to pick it up the next day.
This is the blurb from the book:
An unsolved murder. A missing child. A lifetime of deception. In 1977, pregnant Genevieve Russell disappeared. Twenty years later, her remains are discovered and Timothy Gleason is charged with murder. But there is no sign of the unborn child. CeeCee Wilkes knows how Genevieve Russell died, because she was there. And she also knows what happened to the missing infant, because two decades ago she made the devastating choice to raise the baby as her own. Now Timothy Gleason is facing the death penalty, and she has another choice to make. Tell the truth and destroy her family. Or let an innocent man die to protect a lifetime of lies...
The Lost Daughter follows the main character Ceecee who is a 16 year old girl who works in a local coffee shop. She lost her mother at the age of 12 to Cancer and before she died left her daughter Ceecee letters to open throughout her life. (These letters open most of the chapters in the book) One day a wealthy man named Timothy Gleeson - six years her senior - enters the coffee shop and shows Ceecee a lot of attention. After a while a relationship blossoms between them. Things are going strong and after a few months he tells Ceecee about his sister who is in prison for killing a photographer who raped her and he asks her to help him get his sister off of the death penalty and out of jail by kidnapping the governor's wife Genevieve Russell in the hope that she will be released for the return of his wife. As she is head over heels in love she reluctantly agrees. From this moment on Ceecee's life is turned upside down when the kidnapping attempt goes horribly wrong and she is left to make huge decisions that a 16 year old shouldn't have to make.
I will leave the rest for you to discover yourselves!
Diane's style of writing is not too in depth like Jodi Picoult but this makes it easier to read and very difficult to put down from the first page. Many times dinner had to wait as I just needed to know what was going to happen next. Diane was originally a psychologist and this shows in the well thought out story line and the characters.
I picked this book up 3 times but never bought it, don't know why. My sister arrives to see me, raving about a book I must read, guess which book? Yes this one and boy was she right, I didn't tell her that though.
The blurb on the back doesn't really do the story justice as it appears a murder mystery type and that doesn't appeal to me at all.
Whereas in reality its a deeply moving, compelling, story overflowing with drama and romance and a mysterious element lurking in the background.
Diane Chamberlain is an award winning author. Before becoming a writer she was a psychotherapist working mainly with adolescents.
Several years ago she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis which does hamper her writing at times, she has also written~
The Courage Tree.
Before The Storm.
I have mentioned this because I feel her experience as a psychotherapist enables her to make her characters seem all the more real , she seems to give them so much depth you almost feel you really know them and throughout this book I was totally on the main characters "side" and I wanted every thing to work out well sooo much for her.
I really can't tell you too much as it would spoil the story so here's an outline.
Genevieve Russell pregnant with her second child disappeared, the year is 1977. Then 20 years later, her remains are found, but there is no sign of the unborn child~ did the child die too or was it taken alive and why?......
CeeCee Wilkes knows everything, how Genevieve died, why she died and what happened to the unborn child.....
How does she know? She was there.....
Years later a man Timothy Gleason is facing the death penalty, but CeeCee and only CeeCee knows he's innocent.....
What should she do? Let a man die for something he didn't do or risk destroying her own life and sending her own family's life into turmoil and risk losing them?......
What a choice~ if you want to know what she chose, you will have to read the book, because Im not going to tell you.....
The whole book is told from her perspective and as a character I immediately Loved her and as I was drawn into the web of lies that became a way of life for her and in essence actually became her life , it truly was a rollercoaster ride of emotion and imagination.
I felt her predicament so intensely and I willed her to do certain things and not do others, but throughout the story, she only had a limited choice because of the choices she had made earlier.
It certainly made me realise how making a bad choice when you are young for that "age old reason~ LOVE" can have a domino effect throughout the rest of your life~ SCARY, so be careful who you Love and why.
For me Love was the main theme I took from the book and I think the choices that CeeCee made were heavily influenced by the her own Mother and the relationship they had. If this had panned out differently, I feel CeeCee wouldn't have been so easily drawn into the "plan", but then again the book would have been boring then.
I did at times find myself thinking "what would I do if it was me?" and in my opinion it's an excellent author that has the power to make you think like that. At times I was open mouthed in "catching flies pose" at what happened and others I wanted to shout "No ,No" and continually wanted to defend CeeCee and explain she had no choice, she was just a young, silly girl in Love.
It's a book I couldn't put down and at times my starving family threatened to confiscate it until I made tea for them, if you took it on holiday you could easily just read it in one sitting, I was desperate to know what happened next.....
The story does touch on "The Death Penalty" and I think was used to Timothy Gleason's advantage in a way as he was so strongly against it, but was innocently facing it himself. Again another way in which this clever author makes you think and may change your mind.....
I did not mention the other characters as I think it would spoil the story and as it unfolds during reading,you will learn all you need to know.
All the characters are explored deeply and are believable and I felt I really knew "how they all ticked".
A great story full of unexpected twists and turn's that take your breath away at times.
A testament to how Love can effect your judgement and make you do something you know is ultimately wrong and then you may find yourself "paying" for this wrong doing for a lifetime.
When you get the chance to make some of it right again to a certain extent, would you be brave enough? Still haven't decided myself......
I did feel somewhat sad when I closed this book once finished as it's a story complete and I do feel all the loose ends were tied and the ending didn't disappoint.
I haven't read any more of Diane Chamberlain's other books as yet, but I do plan to look out for them.
It's an undisputed 5 stars from me.
Publisher~ MIRA books.
Cover Price~ £6.99
More info~ www.mirabooks.co.uk
Can be bought from Amazon approx £5.49
Thanks for reading my review.
In 1977, heavily pregnant Genevieve Russell disappears. Twenty years later, her body is discovered in woodland next to a bloodied knife. However, her unborn child's body is nowhere to be seen.
Timothy Gleason, the man who tried to blackmail Genevieve's husband, the Governor of North Carolina back in 1977, is charged with the murder and is sentenced to death and for the family and the public, that is the end of the case.
However, CeeCee Wilkes has to make a terrifying decision. She knows what happened to Genevieve and she knows that Timothy didn't kill Genevieve because she was there on the day she died.
She also knows what happened to the child, as she made the decision on that fateful day to bring Genevieves child up as her own.
CeeCee now has to make a choice to either keep quiet and save her family from her awful secret, or tell the truth and free an innocent man from the death penalty.
I was almost put off this book as it has been compared to Jodi Picoults books. I really am not a fan of Picoults style of writing at all and to read another author who has been compared to her would not make for good reading in my opinion! However, I am so glad that I picked this book up!
I can see why there has been a comparison between the two authors. Like Picoult, "The Lost Daughter" (and I've also seen it on the net called "The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes") has a moral thread to it similar to those in Picoults books.
Unlike Picoult, thankfully, Chamberlain's style of writing is much more enjoyable. Her writing is interesting and thought provoking whereas Picoult tends to come across as patronising in my opinion. Her ideas are put across subtly and left me wondering what I would do in CeeCee's situation. I loved how some authors have the knack of getting to the crux of human relationships and how she makes you question what side of the fence you should sit on when it comes to moral dilemmas - this book was a perfect example of that, and Chamberlain achieved this effortlessly.
The story of how this all came to be is told wonderfully. Most chapters, especially when CeeCee is about to make a big decision, begins with a letter from CeeCee's late mother, whom she lost to breast cancer when she was twelve. CeeCee's mother decided to write her daughter letters to help her cope with things through her life in the future and as I read each chapter, the letters have some kind of bearing on CeeCee's future decisions, especially when it comes to her involvement in Genevieve's life.
Not only do these letters shape CeeCee's decisions, they also made me empathise with the young CeeCee. The writing is such that it is easy to see why CeeCee would make the wrong choices when she was just sixteen but the content of the letters just endeared her character to me even more.
As the book progressed, the reader gets to "grow up" with CeeCee and the decisions she's made in her life and the Chamberlain has done a sterling job of fleshing out her main character. CeeCee as a teenager and CeeCee (or her new Identity Eve) as an adult grow and split to become almost two different characters but as a reader, the changes are subtle and Chamberlain's characterisation of this woman is strong. I really felt for CeeCee and although some of her decisions were wrong, I could understand her motives and understand that regret wasn't really an option, as she wouldn't have the things she has as an adult.
As for the other characters, they do not quite live up to the fully dimensional CeeCee. Cory, CeeCee's daughter who she kidnapped from Genevieve all those years ago, was a bit of a disappointment. I loved the bond that developed between mother and daughter, and then later between step father and daughter whilst Cory was growing up but became frustrated with her character as an adult.
Cory is shown as a very frightened girl, then teenager then adult due to the fact that CeeCee (or Eve) has protected her and sheltered her from life. As a result, Cory becomes the exact opposite of her mother and as an adult, is even frightened of driving a short trip down the road. Her constant worry and dependency annoyed me greatly but I also found that I became to dislike Cory when she finally distanced herself from her mother. At the beginning of the book, we have a chapter showing Cory in her adult life with her fiancé and it's alluded to that the relationship with her mother is strained. It is easy to assume this is because of something that CeeCee has done, but in reading the book, it is clear that Cory is a woman who is easily influenced by her fiancé. Cutting off CeeCee in her life left me feeling a bit outraged but again that is a mark of a good book!
Despite this, Chamberlain manages to change what I thought about Cory on its head towards the end and my opinions of her changed somewhat. Chamberlain has an uncanny ability to show you how some decisions are difficult without pointing out the obvious and I found that I had warmed to Cory and her difficult life.
The books end may be slightly predictable but I don't think it would have worked any other way. As the reader, I felt on CeeCee's side through all of her life in the book and wanted her to survive despite her bad judgements so I felt like CeeCee should be acknowledged for the good person she is - and any other ending would have made me feel a bit angry!
Despite these little niggles, this was a truly wonderful book about love families and friendships. I love books that questions your own ideas about what is right and wrong and also shows the repercussions of what one silly act or thought can have on the rest of your life. This is one such book, a real page-turner, with a courageous and believable main character and lots of emotional discoveries.
The Lost Daughter by Diane Chamberlain is the fictional story of a woman who faces a huge dilemna - should she keep quiet whilst a man faces a murder charge and the death penalty, or should she reveal what she knows about the events that lead to the death of the woman he had kidnapped?
I bought the book as part of "2 for £7" Tesco promotion - in all honesty I was probably swayed by the "for fans of Jodi Picoult this is a must read" on the back cover. I can see why this was used as a sell line - but in actual fact it probably does the book a disservice. Yes the author is American, and yes the author seeks to examine difficult areas but to me Jodi Picoult is a more compelling and memorable writer. That said, I did enjoy the book and it was a good read.
The heroine of the book, Eve, is revealed early on in the book to have a double identity. The story starts in 1977 where she is a young motherless girl called CeeCee who, looking for love, ends up with a boyfriend (Tim Gleason) who embroils her in the kidnapping of pregnant woman. When the woman, Genevieve, dies in childbirth CeeCee ends up literally holding the baby and has to make some choices that will dictate the events that follow. I won't ruin the plot by giving away too much, but it is clear from the start that ultimately Eve/CeeCee, her identity having been changed after the kidnapping, will have to decide whether to reveal what happened.
The author does her best to build believable characters about whom you will care about. Whether you buy into the passivity with which CeeCee goes along with her boyfriend's plans is questionable - the letters from her dead mother that peppered the early bit of the book seemed rather too engineered to make you believe in her in my opinion. However as the book progresses characters such as Ronnie, Eve's husband 20 years later and the characters she meets during her identity change through a secret organisation called SCAPE do draw you in. Corinne who is Eve's daughter was also well drawn and is the daughter referred to on the cover, which has the line "By telling the truth, she'll lose her daughter, by living a lie, she'll lose herself" - this is a good summary of the book, the interest of the book being how Eve gets to the point at which she finds herself in Chapter One.
I found the issues of the death penalty, the mother/daughter relationship and the nature versus nurture issues that were raised of interest, though again it did feel a bit like the story was woven to raise those issues. Here again the comparison with Jodi Picoult as the cover does has to be made - in Picoult's writing such as "Change of Heart" the issues seem to arise naturally out of the story where here they just seem a little more contrived.
Overall the book was not a disappointment as such and I did enjoy it. The writing was good and I did want to know what would happen to an extent, though it wasn't a real "I have to stay up all night to read this" kind of book. For anyone looking for something a little weightier than chick lit without being an over onerous read this book does deliver and is worth a look.