Seems like the majority of people love to follow celebrities. Just look at the popularity of the entertainment news television shows and magazines such as “People“. But… have you ever wondered just what it is like to be on the other end? To be a celebrity and have every aspect of your life examined under a microscope, with no privacy, and often… no dignity? Elizabeth Little‘s novel “Dear Daughter” sheds some light on this subject.
Janie’s mother is a socialite. She married wisely, she only associates with people who can bolster her social standing, and she practices philanthropy – though only when it is publicized. Janie has been brought up with little maternal affection and the best that money can buy. As a result she is bitter, jaded, friendless, and lets be honest – more than a bit of a snob. At the age of seventeen (a tough age for anyone) she finds her murdered mother’s body. Physical evidence puts her in prison for her mother’s murder. Not completely sure herself whether she is guilty or innocent, she spends her years in prison becoming very well read. Then, ten years later, she is released from prison due to a mismanagement of evidence. Because she is not entirely sure of what happened the night her mother died, Janie assumes a new identity, along with a disguise, and flees to South Dakota where, she believes, is her mother’s hometown.
Janie Jenkins – now Rebecca Parker – visits the town where her mother grew up. She meets people who knew her mother. She suspects that she knows who her birthfather could possibly be. She meets the town’s police chief. With some ingenious ‘digging’ she discovers why her Mum left town all those years ago. But the task has not been easy. She is constantly on the look out for anyone who can recognize her former self. She has a stalker/blogger who is ‘out to get her’. The paparazzi would have a field day if they discovered her whereabouts. Janie is a very damaged young woman. She sleeps in the bathtub, she has no one she can trust or befriend.
With a quirky – former Gold Rush – little town setting, a protagonist that was less than likeable, and a somewhat contrived plot, this is not the thriller I had hoped for. For the first two-thirds of the novel I didn’t care for Janie/Rebecca at all. Then I began to feel sorry for her. Then, near the end, she became more ‘human’ and thus more likeable.
I can see the appeal of the novel, but it was not a personal favorite. I like thrillers that have characters that I can become more vested in – with a plot that seems more believable. It is however escapist fiction – so if that is what you prefer – then this debut novel is for you.
Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with the ebook edition of this title.