The Drowning Lesson Jane Shemlit

51+SbsyxtmL._AA160_ Pub: Penguin

The press conference, one year ago

Our home is a crime scene now.

I am in yesterday’s clothes. The clothes in which I kissed Sam goodbye. Then he’d belonged only to us. Now his image will be shared with the world.

We should be grateful.

‘Our son . . . Sam . . .’ My eyes fill with tears, the writing on the paper blurs. ‘Someone took him. Please help us . . .’

I back away from the microphone, the paper falls from my hands.

The anniversary

The Jordan family thought they would return from their gap year abroad enriched, better people, a closer family.
Not minus one child.

A year on, Emma remains haunted by the image of that empty cot, thousands of miles away, the chasm between her and the rest of the family growing with each day that Sam remains missing. Is her son still out there? Will the mystery about what happened that night ever be unravelled?

The sound of your heart dropping when you read, ‘the cot is empty’ is a good thing in my book, it means that the reader is hooked and involved from the beginning and Jane Shemlits novel does just that.

Adam and Emma embark on an adventure to Botswana, in the name of medical research, and this adventure will change their lives forever.

Emma is a competitive and sometimes jealous wife, and although she wants Adam to succeed she somehow feels left behind. Africa was not her idea and she didn’t want to go at first but eventually she relents and finding herself pregnant, she packs up her family and looks to the next few months where unbeknownst to her she will face a crisis that is every parents nightmare.

Beautifully written, Jane Shemlits description of Botswana appealed to my wanderlust. In many ways a contradiction of opposites, with the richness of the landscape to the poverty of the people and the heat and the everlasting sunshine to the lack of water through droughts, Emma finds a place for herself. She has help with children and finds a part time job at the clinic.

The characters are fabulous, Josiah and Elisabeth are helpful and quiet, while Teko takes Emmas daughter Alice under her wing.

The beauty of Botswana soon starts to fade when we learn of the witch-doctors, the Boloi, and their medicines and magic. I was horrified, but will this knowledge somehow help Emma find her baby?

I loved this book. The suspense was taut and the story evocative. I did however find that Emmas story of her time spent with her father was a little odd, but at the end of The Drowning Lesson it all made sense to me.

Jane Shemlit is a fabulous writer and her tale was one I am happy to recommend.

4*/5

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