Review – The Other Daughter by Caroline Bond

You only get one life – but what if it isn’t the one you were meant to live?
 
‘When it finally arrived I was shocked to see it; to read the words Mum wrote about these women fighting for rights I know I take for granted. Mum was here. And while she was, something happened that changed the entire course of my life. Perhaps, if I can summon the courage, the next eight weeks will help me finally figure out what that was . . .’
 
When Jessica discovers a shocking secret about her birth, she leaves her London home and travels to Switzerland in search of answers. She knows her journalist mother spent time in the country forty years earlier, reporting on the Swiss women’s liberation movement, but what she doesn’t know is what happened to her while she was there. Can Jess summon the courage to face the truth about her family, or will her search only hurt herself and those around her even more?
 
Set across a stunning Swiss backdrop, The Other Daughter follows one woman in her search for the truth about her birth, and another desperately trying to succeed in a man’s world. Perfect for fans of Tracy Rees, Elizabeth Noble and Kathryn Hughes.

Review

The Other Daughter by Caroline Bishop is the story of one women’s search for the truth of her past and the acceptance of her present. Written both in the present and alternately with episodes from the past, it is a moving tale about the power of secrets which have shattered her identity and world.

Caroline Bishop has delivered a narrative that is compelling to read, with a fascinating look at Switzerland’s historical treatment of women, their right to vote and control over their own bodies.  It also delves into a dark secret that once sat at the heart of the countries vision of motherhood, creating for the reader a perfect fusion of a fictionalised tale, with its roots deep in a reality so many would prefer be forgotten and buried away.  

That may all sound ‘heavy’ but it actually forms the backdrop to a well written and often emotional look at the effect that secrets once revealed can have on our perception of who we are and our place in our own narrative.  It works so well because Jessica is perfectly ‘flawed’, in that her once stable life, though not without its troubles, is derailed and she acts out character, her mental health affecting her behaviour and driving her need to solve the shocking secret of her birth.  Combining a true history with a fictional character gives her story and added emotional depth, so much so, that it is hard at times to remember she is not real, so well written is she, because the tale of her life in wrapped in the reality of so many women.  I felt heartbroken for her and so many others in this novel, because her tale has at its heart an intrinsic truth and a pain almost too painful to imagine.  Days after finishing it, my mind is still full of her story, because it is so well told and reflects real experiences, adding extra layers of pathos to Jessica’s journey and ours with her.

Caroline Bishop takes both story and character in The Other Daughter and weaves a tale that is all about redemption and every persons need to own their story, however painful the journey to find it might be. By taking back and forward from the present to the past and the origins of Jessica’s birth, she also manages to defy avoid allowing the story to feel trite. She doesn’t reveal the truth to us easily, but rather cleverly, leads us and Jessica down paths that seem at first full of revelations, but actually are a smoke screen designed to fool us and they do. So much so that the truth actually shocked me and left a feeling akin to how Jessica feels, overwhelmed and overcome.

I would recommend to all readers!  

You can purchase this novel from Amazon and Waterstones, as well as your local indie bookshop.

About the author

Caroline Bishop began her journalism career at a small arts magazine in London, after a brief spell in educational publishing. She soon moved to work for a leading London theatre website, for which she reviewed shows and interviewed major acting and directing stars. Caroline turned freelance in 2012 and a year later moved to Switzerland, where her writing veered towards travel and she has contributed to publications including the Guardian, the Independent, the Telegraph and BBC Travel, writing mainly about Switzerland, and co-wrote the 2019 edition of the DK Eyewitness Guide to Switzerland. For two years Caroline was editor of TheLocal.ch, an English-language Swiss news site, and it was during this time that she became fascinated with aspects of Swiss history and culture, particularly the evolution of women’s rights.

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