The Other Daughter

Lauren Willig (The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, The Ashford Affair) has mastered the creation of likable historical heroines. Rachel Woodley, Edwardian nursery governess, is no exception.

When Rachel's mother dies unexpectedly, Rachel discovers some shocking secrets about her past. The father she thought was dead is not only alive, he's an earl, with a debutante daughter and a wastrel son who show up frequently in the tabloids. Rachel realizes she's illegitimate, the other daughter, and that knowledge turns her world upside-down. Resolved to get to know her father, she enlists the help of a gossip columnist named Simon to transform herself into one of London's Bright Young Things. With freshly bobbed hair, a cigarette to hand and a steely determination to discover why her father left her and her mother, Rachel slips into her new persona amid the fast-paced world of high society London.

Willig does a superb job of portraying the pointlessly absurd pranks and parties that the fashionable elite of the 1920s participated in. With their inside jokes and their silly nicknames (Rachel's half-brother goes by the charming sobriquet of Jinksy), this generation seems unwavering in its frivolity. But Rachel soon finds that more lurks beneath the surface, and there are long-hidden reasons for her estrangement from her father. Is she ready to face the truth, or will she regret her elaborate deception?

Readers of other between-the-wars fiction like that of Jacqueline Winspear or Kate Morton are sure to appreciate the charm of The Other Daughter. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

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