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Friday, 11 July 2008
The Daughter Game
by Kate Long
Kate Long's books always keep me reading. I read Swallowing Grandma on a transatlantic flight and it entertained me for the whole journey. I especially enjoy her witty, realistic dialogue, and sharply observed characters.
Her most recent novel, The Daughter Game, doesn't have so many laugh-out-loud moments as the others, but I still picked it up first thing in the morning in preference to my laptop.
The book starts with a scene where the main character, Anna, melts her headmaster with a flamethrower – letting us know that she has a good line in imaginary vengeance, and setting the tone for this lively, warm, and funny though sometimes disturbing book.
Anna is a successful school teacher, but her apparent confidence hides conflicts. She has a history of miscarriages, and is increasingly dissatisfied in her childless marriage to an ex-teacher who is now a full-time writer. All of the pressures lead her to question everything about her life, from her relationship with her dead mother to her longing for a child.
She has an affair with her brother-in-law, but he wants more from her than she can give. In school a friendship with a promising new female student becomes too intense as Anna sees her as a daughter figure.
Anna’s journey takes us from classroom to staff room, from her middle-class home to a rented caravan to a run-down slum, and I travelled with her all the way.
I have to admit I was rooting for a different ending, but the one in the book makes sense, and I guess it shows I was involved with the characters.
Reviewed by Alison Merricks