Book Review: The Lost Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

Book Review: The Lost Daughter (The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes) by Diane Chamberlain

Shelved: Adult fiction (contemporary, suspense)
Rating: ★★★★
Buy: Hive
More: Goodreads

(The Lost Daughter is also known as The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes and A Beautiful Lie)

The Lost Daughter is one of my mum’s favourite books. She used to ask me every few weeks, ‘Have you read it yet? When are you going to read it? READ IT!’ and so I promised to read it before the end of the year – and it sucked me into 1977 straight away.

You can imagine my surprise when it began almost like a young adult novel. CeeCee Wilkes is sixteen years old, parentless, working in a coffee shop in order to pay rent for the one bedroom apartment she shares with a friend. She’s hard at work when she meets charming 22-year-old Tim Gleason, who falls for her beautiful hair and unconscious generosity. 20 years later, CeeCee Wilkes – now known as Eve Elliot – is speaking out on national news, protesting his innocence. You see, Timothy Gleason has been charged with the murder of young, pregnant Genevieve Russell. Genevieve’s remains have been discovered yet there’s no sign of the unborn baby. But CeeCee knows where she is – because she raised her as her own.

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes is the original title for the book, describing it perfectly. After Tim persuades CeeCee to help with the kidnapping of Genevieve Russell, the governor’s wife, she is encouraged to take up a new identity, leave her old life behind, and learn how to grow up quickly. The Lost Daughter, I will admit, is a little crazy. I cannot quite imagine it happening, but it’s completely gripping nonetheless. I love these sort of books: contemporary, psychological, suspenseful. I always see ‘If you like Jodi Picoult, try… Diane Chamberlain’ and I can completely see why, although their styles are very different.

Jodi Picoult and Diane Chamberlain are both superb at taking a controversial, human issue and wrapping it up in suspense and mystery. The Lost Daughter made me think a lot about the death penalty – of which Tim is sentenced to  – because it was abolished in the UK in 1969, yet is still an occurrence in the USA.  It’s cliché to say it, but I couldn’t put The Lost Daughter down. I hadn’t read a book for a while that made me feel like ‘just one more chapter and then I’ll go to sleep’, even though it was 2am. And because it’s a contemporary, realistic (to some extent!) novel, you become so wrapped up in the characters’ everyday lives that you begin to understand what could make someone make such a drastic decision. CeeCee participated in the kidnapping of a young woman who dies. In a panic, she steals the newly born daughter, leaving Genevieve’s family grieving. You would think that CeeCee would be a completely unlikable character, yet after a while, her poor decisions start to make sense…

If The Lost Daughter is anything to go by, I definitely want to read the rest of Diane Chamberlain’s novels. I’ve slowly been collecting them over the last two years and I already have seven. Bring on the psychological drama!

Published: 1st November 2010 (US) 31st January 2011 (UK)
Publisher: Mira
Pages: 522

10 thoughts on “Book Review: The Lost Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

  1. I have been so intrigued by Diane Chamberlain’s books (I always see it on the bookshelves at work) — so glad to see such a positive review. Finally, someone I “know” who has read her! Thank you for this — especially with the Picoult comparison — and I’m adding her to my to-read list!

    • Hooray! I’d been wanting to pick up one of her novels for AGES. I think if you go in expecting it to be a little insane, you’ll enjoy it a lot. I loved reading about CeeCee and then twenty years later, Eve.

  2. Oh I’ve read “a Beautiful Lie” – had no idea there were so many alternate names! Haha. Though not my preferred genre, I did enjoy it and the moral dilemma the protagonist faced. I know my friends in my Literature Club absolutely adored it. (Especially the ones who were already fans of Jodi Picoult!)

  3. This is the first Diane Chamberlain book I read. I loved it. Some of her others are brilliant too, I’m just working my way through them.

  4. I have three Diane Chamberlain novels sitting on my shelves and I have been keen to delve in to them because of that famous ‘If you like Jodi Picoult…’ line. After this review, the first I have seen of a Diane Chamberlain book, I’m itching to get stuck in to them. None of my three happen to be the one you read, but it was nice to hear about her writing, and for that Jodi Picoult comparison to be acknowledged, because if truth be told that was kind of putting me off a little.
    Thanks for the review!
    🙂

  5. This sounds really interesting – a bit of a crazy plot, but I like that you’ve mentioned that the author has a knack of making it seem more grounded through emotions etc.

    Nell at And Nell Writes

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