Book review: The Other Daughter by Caroline Bishop

Photo of the book The Other Daughter with cropped picture of a young woman holding a book. her head and shoulders and feet are outside the picture. A cityscape is behind her at the bottom. Text includes an endorsement from Rachel Hore - A fresh, original, passionate and page-turning story.

The Other Daughter is Caroline Bishop’s debut novel published earlier this year. I chanced upon it in the new books section of the local library. The strapline is You only get one life – but what if it isn’t the one you were meant to have?

The chapters alternate between 1976 and 2016 with two female main characters’ stories intertwining. It is set in the London and Switzerland. I was particularly interested as I have visited some of the places in Switzerland including Chateau de Chillon on the shore of Lake Geneva. It was easy to visualise the characters in these places.

The story highlights the late stage at which moves towards equality for women reached Switzerland. There are other disturbing social problems in the background. I enjoyed this book. The mystery is unravelled slowly in a way I found very satisfactory.

The endorsement from Rachel Hore – ‘A fresh, original, passionate and page-turning story’ is accurate.

Switzerland is a very beautiful country, which makes it more poignant to learn that it is not without its problems.

Another novel set in Switzerland with some disturbing content is Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier. I read that before I began reviewing most of the books I read and enjoyed it less than her other books.

The summer of 1976 was the very hot one, which is the setting for another book with some dark content: On Midnight Beach by Marie-Louise Fizpatrick, which I reviewed here.

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Two more e-books I read in January 2021

The Young Adult books I am reviewing here are both from BorrowBox. On Midnight Beach will also appeal to older readers.

The Bookweaver’s Daughter by Malavika Kannan is a very exciting book. It has many elements expected of the genre – conflict between groups of people, adventure, fighting with weapons and with magic while a main protagonist discovers her identity. Additionally it is set in ancient Indian Kingdom of Kasmiri. Perhaps it was the result of magic that some of the scenes seemed to begin in new places with no explanation of how the people had arrived there. I enjoyed the book and was surprised to learn how young Malavika Kannan was when she wrote it. A friendship and the opening location in this book reminded me of The Red Ribbon.

On Midnight Beach by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

On Midnight Beach is set in Ireland in the hot summer of 1976. There is a sense of impending disaster from the very beginning. This is reinforced by the mention of The Lord of the Flies, a book I had to read at school and disliked intensely. However I found this story fascinating, if haunting. It is about teenagers rather than younger children. Relationships between teenagers and within their families are explored. The culture of the time is reflected in the well-crafted story, which ends with (at least to my mind) a ray of hope.