2016, 250 p
The hugely successful Gone Girl with its taut and if somewhat implausible double narrative has spawned quite a few imitators, and this is one of them. In 2003 Rebecca Winter disappeared, prompting a huge but ultimately fruitless police investigation. Eleven years later, a young woman on the verge of being arrested, blurts out that she is the missing Bec. We (and she) know that she is not. Her family and friends welcome her back, but she is soon uneasy about them as she pieces together what might have happened to the real Rebecca Winter.
The book is ostensibly set in Canberra, with reference to Canberra landmarks, but is peppered with Americanisms, most particularly ‘Mom’ which jarred every time, and a house that sounds far more like a double-storey American weatherboard house than a Canberra one. Beyond the double narrative, there’s a back-story to the Bec-imposter as well, which is probably one storyline too many. The book has a rather adolescent voice, using alternating past and present tense and third and first person in the two time periods, and relies heavily on dialogue. It tended to get rather flabby in the middle, and I was finding the banality of description and dialogue rather wearing. However, the ending came as a surprise, not only in the ‘whodunnitness’ but also in the rapid change of pace in the last twenty pages or so. It doesn’t surprise me at all that it has been optioned by American producers for a film release.
The book was published by Harlequin, not one of my usual publishers. The book itself finished 3/4 of the way through with the remainder of the pages is made up of teasers from some of their other publications. It felt a bit like commercial television and did a disservice to Only Daughter by firmly reinforcing its place within the romantic/ domestic thriller genre.
I’ve posted this review on the Australian Women Writers Challenge website