For The Someday Book

Book Review: Somebody Else’s Daughter

Posted on: January 21, 2011

Somebody Else’s Daughter, by Elizabeth Brundage, Plume Books, 2008, 342 pp.

At long last, after holidays and funerals and ministry galore, a chance to read! I picked up this book back in November from the clearance table, hoping for a little light diversion over the Thanksgiving weekend. I finally started it on MLK Day, and discovered it was a great choice.

Somebody Else’s Daughter has a great cast of multi-generational characters, centered on an elite prep school in the Berkshires. The middle-aged generation of characters is comprised of the headmaster and his wife, a teacher, and several wealthy parents. The student generation of characters are the daughter of the headmaster, a local prostitute, the child of a single mother who moved to the school after a very different life, and the adopted daughter of two wealthy parents, who is also the birth daughter of the teacher. Everyone in the book has a past full of secrets, and the story uncovers them one by one.

Brundage wove this story together in a beautiful way. The story draws you in like a spider in a web. I had no idea where it was going, what the plot was going to be, but it didn’t matter. I was captivated by each of the characters and by Brundage’s simple yet exquisite writing. Each chapter, each scene stood on its own,  yet there was mystery after mystery unfolding. As it rolled along, I started to pick up clues about upcoming plot twists, but they were subtle and indirect. Then, almost suddenly, I looked up to find myself in the middle of a mystery and a thriller for the final hundred pages or so.

The experience of reading this novel reminded me of riding the log flume. Most of the ride is a gentle, rolling trip through the trees and around some corners. Then, you enter the old wooden sawmill, see the giant spinning blade and your heart starts to beat a little faster. At the end, you go crashing down below the blade, now the incline at top speed into a big splash, laughing with delight. Somebody Else’s Daughter was a great ride, and just the escape reading I needed.

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About Me

I am a full-time pastor in the United Church of Christ, mother of a young child (B.), married to an aspiring academic and curmudgeon (J.). I live by faith, intuition and intellect. I follow politics, football and the Boston Red Sox. I like to talk about progressive issues, theological concerns, church life, the impact of technology and media, pop culture and books.

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