“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 fiancé…” (Goodreads)
This book had all the stuff I like in good women’s historical fiction: post-war era London, some betrayal, a bit of glamour, some revenge, and of course some romance (but not too much in this one). I don’t read a lot of women’s fiction, but when I do, I really enjoy it. I would say they’re my guilty pleasure, but we should never feel guilty about the things we like (life advice). The Other Daughter was no exception.
The key with this sort of book, is to have a likeable heroine; this is important because you are going to spend a lot of time with her. I did really like Rachel (or, Vera, as she is known as in latter parts of the novel); she was super independent and super smart. I like when female characters are witty and can trade barbs with the male characters. In this case the male character was Simon Montfort: also intelligent, a bit of a mystery, brooding, frequently unpleasant, and man about town. So of course I loved him. I imagine him being played by Tom Hughes if there was ever a screen adaptation of this book (get onto it TV/film people).
I found the whole idea of Rachel taking on a new identity a little bit over the top at first, but the way it was written was believable and I enjoyed seeing Rachel push her own personal boundaries as she attempted to be an entirely new person. And the ending…
Usually the ending in novels with even a hint of romance is pretty predictable: girl will solve whatever mystery she has to solve, will fall in love, and everyone lives relatively happily every after. Not necessarily the case here; I was genuinely wondering how everything would turn out right up to the last chapter. Happily I got the ending that I wanted, and my favourite character wasn’t too altered in the process.
Overall it was a well written, entertaining read, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes to read women’s fiction.