The Drowning Lesson by Jane Shemilt

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Publisher: Penguin

Publication Date: 24 September 2015

The press conference, one year ago

Our home is a crime scene now.

I am in yesterday’s clothes. The clothes in which I kissed Sam goodbye. Then he’d belonged only to us. Now his image will be shared with the world.

We should be grateful.

‘Our son . . . Sam . . .’ My eyes fill with tears, the writing on the paper blurs. ‘Someone took him. Please help us . . .’

I back away from the microphone, the paper falls from my hands.

The anniversary

The Jordan family thought they would return from their gap year abroad enriched, better people, a closer family.
Not minus one child.

A year on, Emma remains haunted by the image of that empty cot, thousands of miles away, the chasm between her and the rest of the family growing with each day that Sam remains missing. Is her son still out there? Will the mystery about what happened that night ever be unravelled?”

MY REVIEW

Firstly I’d like to thank the publisher for sending me this book to read and share my honest thoughts. I have to admit, after reading the blurb I was concerned that the subject of the storyline would make it too difficult for me to read. On the other hand I was also intrigued: Why and how was Sam taken? Where were his parents at the time? Would there be a happy ending?

Before I even started reading my mind was conjuring up images of children from real newspaper stories, not all of which ended well – I desperately wanted this book to finish on a happy note.

The storyline began by switching between the past and the present, something that enabled me to build up a clear picture of events in my mind. An overwhelming sense of loss weaved its way through the author’s words and I was held tight by these and also the desire to find out what was going to happen next!

My feelings towards Emma were mixed. There were times when I just couldn’t understand her, I guess she wasn’t as motherly as I had expected and some of her thoughts were completely alien to me. Then there were times when she made complete sense and I could feel the pain in her heart.

There was such an honest vibe to the storyline, especially when the worst happened, the events unravelling on the page before me felt so believable and real. My suspicious mind worked overtime as I tried to figure out who was responsible and now I do know I think I’d like to re-read the book to see things through a more informed set of eyes.

I admit that I cuddled my little one a bit closer as I was reading certain parts of this book, I became so entrenched in the horror of the situation that I needed to remind myself it wasn’t happening to me!

This was a tense and thought-provoking read. It left me feeling kind of numb – I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, maybe it’s a bit of both!

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR

While working as a GP, Jane Shemilt completed a post-graduate diploma in Creative Writing at Bristol University and went on to study for the M.A in Creative Writing at Bath Spa, gaining both with distinction. Her first novel, Daughter, was selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club and became a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller. She and her husband, a professor of Neurosurgery, have five children and live in Bristol.

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