Eleanor Moran's A Daughter's Secret is a proper sob-fest
It's well-paced, even though it takes a while for the actual 'secret' to be revealed.
By Rohit Nair
Published: Thu 17 Dec 2015, 11:00 PM
Last updated: Fri 18 Dec 2015, 9:43 AM
What's obvious at the end of all 420 pages of Eleanor Moran's A Daughter's Secret is that this is definitely a woman's book - basically, what a chick flick would look like if it were a book; Grey's Anatomy, except with therapists and lawyers instead of doctors. It's filled with clichéd characters: moms with troubled relationships, dads with alcoholism and absenteeism, daughters with daddy issues and independent, tomboyish girls noosed down by marriage and kids. I suppose it's what passes off as drama, although that's not quite the genre A Daughter's Secret slots itself into. There's a criminal investigation at the heart of it, but the focus is on the women in the book, particularly the protagonist, Mia.
Mia is a hotshot psychotherapist who's aiming to move up the ladder at her successful practice. She's fashionable, well off (not wealthy) and has a new boyfriend, Marcus, who has a warm chest, but thanks to his aloofness, she doesn't get to spend much time nestling there. In fact, come to think of it, all the men seem to have big, warm chests in this book. Mia mostly deals with terribly boring people, ranging from couples trying to rekindle their love lives to cat ladies who may not all be crazy.
Just when everything seems to be going hunky-dory, Mia gets a new case. It's 13-year old Gemma Vine, the daughter of Christopher Vine, who is part of a major financial corruption investigation. He has gone underground and, apparently, Gemma is the only one who knows where he may be and is defending him because he's the "best dad in the world", apparently. Enter Patrick O'Leary, right on cue, with his Irish charm and lanky legs (and warm chest, as we later find out); a lawyer trying to bring Christopher to justice along with his firm that stole money from honest pensioners. He thinks - scratch that, knows - that Gemma's hiding something and wants Mia to get into her head, like a compliant head doctor. But no one tells Mia how to do her job.
Except someone probably should be telling her how to do her job because, as Patrick later says, "Jeez, Mia, are you like, the word's worst therapist?" Yes, Patrick. Yes, she is. Because not only does she completely mishandle the case, but she completely breaks down into an emotional wreck over Gemma, brings up all of her own daddy issues that she has kept bottled up for some two decades - all the while counselling others to open up about their feelings - loses the love of the affluent, warm-chested Marcus, loses her job and, to top it all, there's her mom with all her issues as well. It's all one big sob-fest. In the meantime, apparently the only one who really cares about the crime part of this weepy drama is Patrick, who's just a lawyer. The cops are barely ever involved, even when things start getting dicey. Of course, eventually, everything works itself out.
There's a lot of heart in A Daughter's Secret. It's well-paced, even though it takes a while for the actual 'secret' to be revealed, and the characters, despite being clichéd, are relatable, to an extent. It's a bit strange how the men are portrayed as complete lowlifes (even the ones that start out as good guys). And stranger still, how the women are portrayed as trying to be stronger and better, but turn out to be emotionally unbalanced stereotypes needing the warmth of a man's chest to snuggle up to, to make everything better. Perhaps, that's who A Daughter's Secret was written for.
"My dad IS a superpower. He's the best at loads of things. He went to Oxford, even though he wasn't posh like everyone else. He built up his business from nothing. He keeps Mum in the style to which she's ac-customed."
"I'm not a doctor, no. But I do have qualifications. The idea is that I can help with the head stuff."
"He lied of course: he lied and lied. And I lied too. I pretended to him, and to me, that I believed him. I used my favourite trick, the one where you can choose not to know something that will be too ruinous to your happiness."