Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Review: The Other Daughter

The Other Daughter
By Lauren Willig
Published: July 21, 2015

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...

From Lauren Willig, author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Ashford Affair, comes The Other Daughter, a page-turner full of deceit, passion, and revenge.

My review:

Rachel Woodley is a hardworking girl with a sad past. Her father died when she was a little girl and she grew up in a village where her mother was a respected widow who worked hard to provide for her. Now she is working as a governess, a thankless job where she is higher than a servant but not equal to the family and she can't allow herself to care too much for her charges because eventually she has to move on. Still it wasn't a bad life as she had a loving mother and even a best friend back home. Unfortunately her view of herself and her life is destroyed when her mother dies and she finds out the truth--her dad is alive, he is the Earl of Ardmore and she is illegitimate.  He is married and he even has a daughter, Lady Olivia Standish. 

Rachel feels betrayed and angry. She is grieving the loss of her mother but at the same time she is upset to find out the truth. Her memories of a loving father are forever tarnished. She is also furious that her half-sister is living the life she might have had. When she meets Simon Montford, a jaded member of Society and a gossip writer, she receives the opportunity to enter Society to try to get close to her father and his family and enact revenge. Taking on the identity of Simon's fictitious cousin Vera, Rachel attends parties, flirts and plays the part but when she meets Olivia she is surprised by what she discovers. 

I liked Rachel as a protagonist. She is smart and she is good at what she does. Before she meets Simon and decides to seek revenge she is actually planning her next steps career-wise instead of just falling apart. I was afraid that she would become this cold and bitter, vengeful person but she never really succumbs to that. As Vera she gets to let loose a little and have some fun after years of being responsible all the time. The fancy outfits and free flowing champagne lifestyle eventually take their toll and she has to decide what she really wants. Is revenge worth it? Does she want to be part of this crowd or is it better to let it go and be Rachel again?

Simon is an intriguing character. I wanted to know what his motivations were for helping Rachel. Was it really just to have something to write about in the paper or did he have more personal reasons? I liked him and he reminded me of Darcy O'Mara from Rhys Bowen's Royal Spyness mysteries. He and Rachel have good chemistry together.

I thought Lady Olivia was bland though I did feel sorry for her. She is what Society would call a "bluestocking". She's very intelligent but she isn't allowed an opinion and she's expected to marry well and help her fiance in his political career rather than pursuing her own dreams. Rachel can't help but feel sympathy for Olivia too even though she is initially jealous that Olivia got to grow up with their father and live in seeming luxury. The truth is far different from what Rachel imagined.

I thought this book would be predictable and full of revenge and it wasn't. The description of "passion and revenge" from the book blurb wasn't entirely accurate. I expected that there would be some kind of confrontation between Rachel and her father and there was to a degree but the outcome was definitely unexpected. I liked how Rachel came to care for Olivia and CeeCee. I was glad she wasn't just full of vengeance and anger. She becomes a better person through her experience. While I would have liked a little more closure in the end, the happy ending that Rachel chooses is fitting for her. 

I enjoyed this historical tale set in the Jazz Age. It was a fun and quick read with secrets to uncover and interesting characters.  I would suggest this to fans of Downton Abbey and readers who enjoy the time period. I think older teens might like it too. I was reminded of the novels of Anna Godbersen with the scandals, glamorous clothes and high society.

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley


  1. Still trying to get to this author! on my radar.

  2. Historicals aren't my thing, but this sounds like a good read!

  3. Fantastic review, Christina! I am glad you enjoyed this one. I absolutely loved the setting as well. I was also glad the novel wasn't too focused on revenge. I think there was a good balance. It wasn't my favorite novel by Willig, but I enjoyed it and I think you are right....fans of Godbersen as well as Downton Abbey will like it!


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