New book – The Courage Tree by Diane Chamberlain

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Publishing year: 2001

Another compelling room. I couldn’t expect anything else from Ms. Chamberlain. I adore her books.

This novel revolves around Janine. Her eight-year-old daughter Sophie has a serious kidney disease, and doctors believe that she will definitely die. However, Janine decides to get Sophie have some experimental alternative treatment. That brings the opposition of her parents and her ex-husband. Sophie is now better because of this new treatment, and now that she’s feeling better, she agreed to let her go on a camp trip, which is also opposed by her parents and ex-husband. Sophie feels fine and there shouldn’t be a problem, but the day the girl is supposed to be back, the car in which she and another girl were travelling doesn’t appear. The police get involved, and there’s no trace of the girls and the young woman who drove the car. Joe, Janine’s ex-husband, is angry but supportive, but it’s clear that he doesn’t trust Janine anymore and he’s conniving with his former parents-in-law to claim custody of Sophie. There’s another character involved in the action. A gardener, who Janine’s parents think is a paedophile because of the strange keenness he has for Sophie. It seems he’s a wronged man, and Janine really trusts him. I’m not sure what the relationship between Sophie and this man (Lucas) is, whether it’s friendship or something else, but he tells her that he loves her.

At the same time all this is happening, there’s also Zoe, who was a famous Hollywood actress, and has faked her suicide and now she’s living like a hermit. She planned to pretend she was dead because she wanted to help her daughter, who was in jail, apparently falsely accused of murdering a woman. I imagine that Sophie’s disappearance is linked to this another plot line, but I’m not sure yet what it is.

I really feel sorry for Janine. She hasn’t been very lucky as her mistakes have always brought terrible consequences. She miscarried her first baby when she decided to go rafting while heavily pregnant; she thinks her daughter is sick because of her former job as a helicopter pilot; and now she’s led to believe that it’s her fault Sophie is in trouble. She must feel terrible when her parents and the man she used to be married to plot against her and make her feel so inadequate. The novel leads us to feel sorry about her. However, I have to say that even though I’m sorry for her, it’s not so easy to pass judgement. I think her parents and Joe also have a point. I’m not sure if I were Janine’s father and ex-husband I’d be in agreement with this experiemental treatment. I think they’re too hard on her, but I believe they’re just worried about Sophie, and not because they want to hurt Janine. Janine has made many mistakes, but I think this trio should know that she’s a good mother and loves her daugther above anything else.

I’m not sure why Janine trusts Lucas. It’s obvious that the man hides something as he didn’t want the police to find what he had been checking on the Internet. My first impression is that he’s a good man but has been misjudged. I hope that what he hides is nothing too terrible. I’m not sure if I want Janine to have a relationship with him or not. Joe sounded like a good guy and I was rooting for him, but now I have my doubts too. I don’t like the fact he intends to fight Janine for Sophie’s custody.

Interesting start, and with so many questions. What has happened to Sophie, her friend and the young woman who drove the car? What is the real relationship between Lucas and Janine? Why is Lucas so interested in Sophie? What does Lucas hide? Why did Janine and Joe’s marriage end? What do Zoe and her daughter Marti have to do with Sophie’s disappearance?  I’ll have to keep reading to find out the answers to all these questions.

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