New Book – Little Sister by Isabel Ashdown (Part I: Prologue – chapter 7)

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Publishing year: 2017

This new book is engrossing from the first pages.

In the prologue a first-person narrator tells us about loving a child very much, and then she stays in the house as the child’s father, James, and his companion leave the house. Our narrator is left in the house as a babysitter, and it is 1 a.m when she goes and checks on the child. The baby is awake, flapping her hands to her, so she takes her to the kitchen. As she warms the milk for the baby, she makes a sandwich, and as she thinks of James and his success with women, she gets angry. Suddenly, she throws the sandwich, hurls the knife and the kitchen board into the sink, and she spills milk all over the worktop. Then she hears the baby gasp, and as she goes to hug her, she notices fresh blood in the child’s jumpsuit, and as her eyes close, our narrator sinks into the darkness.

The following chapters alternate between two narrators, Jess and Emily. They are sisters, and Jess is our narrator in the prologue. We learn that Emily, who is married to James, is the mother of Daisy, the baby in the prologue. Emily and Jess are sisters, and something happened in the past that made them fall out. Emily hadn’t seen her sister for twenty years, and it was in their mother’s funeral when they got reunited. Jess had been travelling for years, and as the sisters got reacquainted, Emily suggested Jess could come home with them and help look after Daisy, and that is what they did.

In the first chapter, which is told from Jess’s perspective, we learn that Daisy is gone missing. Apparently, Emily came home from the party and found her sister lying on the floor and her little girl nowhere to be seen. Apparently, Jess has a rare heart condition and has these episodes in which she faints, but she hadn’t had one in years. The police question Jess, but we know that she doesn’t tell the entire truth. She had drunk a whole bottle of wine that night, which James had left for her, but Jess claims that she hadn’t drunk. It is not clear what happened that night. Jess says that she heard Daisy cry and went to check on her. So in Daisy’s bedroom Jess changed her nappy and the jumpsuit she was wearing, but from the prologue we know that this is not true. She doesn’t mention either that she took Daisy out of her cot at one a.m to give her milk, and about the blood. The police found Jess’s shirt covered in blood, but I think Jess hinted that it could be a nosebleed, but it must come from Daisy. So where is Daisy? What happened to her? Has she been kidnapped or murdered? And why?

From Emily we learn that the night her daughter disappeared, James made her leave the party they had gone on her own as he wanted to stay for a nightcap. James is the kind of man people adore, and Emily is suspicious that her husband is having an affair, and that is the reason why he wanted to stay longer at the party. She thinks that his lover was there. I wonder if there is something going on between James and Jess. There is a connection between them, which makes me suspicious. I wonder if I am right. So far there have been just hints, but Emily has seen some knowing looks pass between her sister and husband. We know that Emily and Jess have always compete against each other since they were children. They are just one year apart, and we know that Jess did something to Emily in the past, which she feels needs her forgiveness.

We learn that it was Emily, who found Jess passed out on the floor, and when Jess came to, she mentioned Daisy’s name, and when Emily rushed to her little girl’s room, she was gone. In the days that follow Emily feels unable to express her emotions and cry. She feels like an automaton, unable to act and react, and she is very afraid. She has isolated from her family.

Apart from the married couple and Jess, there is a fourth member. Chloe is James’s daughter from his marriage. James is a widower, and he met Emily when Chloe was just three. Emily has been a mother for the girl longer than her own mum, but I can feel that there is not much genuine love between them. Chloe is now fifteen, and the night when her sister went missing, she was spending the night with her friend Beth. We know that Chloe and Jess get on great, and Jess has kept some of her secrets, and now Jess thinks that she will have to betray her trust and tell Emily and James about Max because it could be important for the investigation. I imagine that Max is Chloe’s boyfriend, and she might have been with him when she was supposed to be with her friend. So why does Jess think that she needs to tell her sister about Max? What is this Max like? I imagine that he is not the kind of man James or Emily will approve of, and maybe that is why Chloe has kept mum about him.

Very interesting start. I am at a loss about what has happened to little Daisy. I just hope she is okay and they find her. But she was bleeding, wasn’t she? And why didn’t Jess tell the police about it? Doesn’t she remember?

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