Review -The Drowning Lesson by Jane Shemilt

imageAdam and Emma are both highly successful doctors, navigating through their heavy work schedules whilst raising two daughters. Clearly something has to give and so time with little Alice and Zoe is rushed and woefully inadequate.

When Adam is offered a year-long research placement in Botswana he is excited to accept but Emma balks at the idea of putting her own career on hold and insists that she and the girls will stay behind. Then comes the revelation that Emma is expecting again. She keeps this to herself at first, only later telling Adam and inexplicably keeping the news from Alice (the older of the two girls) until it is too late and Alice has already found out by other means. Emma decides to go to Botsawana after all, once the new baby is born. Maybe now, with a newborn in her arms, she might soften, but more disaster; perfectly healthy little Sam has a birthmark on his face and Emma is appalled. Her instincts as a mother coupled with her medical knowledge mean nothing. She is ashamed of his appearance.

In many ways this has been a difficult review to write as I did feel that the author’s writing style was good, sometimes beautiful when describing Botswana and creating a feel for the country. I have spent quite some time there myself and appreciated some lovely descriptions. But as far as the story goes, Emma was just so self-centred, competitive and jealous of her husband’s successes that it was difficult to connect with her at all when the real tragedy of their trip happened – the disappearance of Sam.

Amidst  talk of child abduction and the use of organs in witchcraft a very long search for Sam ensues. I was rooting for the little boy but, sadly, not for his parents



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