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You don’t see Diane Chamberlain coming; she sneaks up on you. By that I mean that Chamberlain isn’t praised as a prose stylist—you don’t find lyrical sentences that catch your breath, soaring imagery, or probing insights to give you pause. Her gifts are in how she surprises you… because she does, time and time again.

Chamberlain crafts her storylines tightly, piling up twists and turns, one on top of the other, until there you are—whipping through the pages to get to the end. This is especially true in her latest, THE DREAM DAUGHTER.

Like her others, this novel is plot- rather than character-driven, which makes any book review a potential spoiler. So I promise to tread lightly here, giving you only the barest of outlines—because the first surprise, on which the entire plot hinges, comes in the first 25 pages.

So, no, I won’t tell you what lies at the heart of the story. But here’s the set-up. It is 1965, and Carly Sears is a physical therapist in training when she meets Hunter Poole, a disturbed young man injured in what some suspect was a suicide attempt. Strangely, Hunter seems to recognize Carly—or at least she resembles someone he once knew—and he pleads with her to take him on as a patient.

Skip ahead five years to 1970. Carly—married, newly widowed, and pregnant—discovers her unborn child has a fatal heart defect. Now it’s Hunter Poole’s chance to help Carly. (Yes, he’s still around.) A Princeton-trained astrophysicist, Hunter proposes a possible solution for the baby, experimental but something he is convinced will work. At least it’s worth a shot, he argues; otherwise, the baby will surely die.

It’s a daring proposition and, for Carly, would mean a step into the abyss. The plan would require all of her courage if she decides to follow through with it (which, of course, she will… because the book goes on for another 350 pages).

From here Chamberlain lays down a crazy theory or two and tosses in a few mind-bending juxtapositions—Carly herself remarks on feeling caught up in a bit of head-spinning “circular thinking.” But it all works well to this readers’ delight.

The book deals with love—the pulls and tugs and ultimate responsibility love imposes on those who do the loving. The Dream Daughter is a tender, pleasurable read. And See? No too much given away. Oh… and there’s one, no, actually two big surprises lying in wait for you at the end.

See our Reading Guide for The Dream Daughter.

 


Molly Lundquist
A former college English instructor, Molly developed LitLovers after teaching an online literature course several years ago. It was so much fun—even the students loved it—that she decided to take it public. If Molly’s not working on LitLovers, she’s sleeping.

 

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