Janet van Eeden
1 minute read
16 Jan 2008

The quest for a child of her own

Janet van Eeden

Book review: The Daughter Game by Kate Long. Published by Picador.

At 42, Anna Lloyd is facing a future where a child of her own is never going to be a reality. After several miscarriages she learns at last that the fault lies with her husband, Jamie. Or so she thinks.

Jamie, an aspirant scriptwriter, is content however with his life as it is. He loves his wife, he loves his job and he doesn’t recognize Anna’s desperation to have a child of her own.

Even though she is a dedicated high school teacher, her need for a child overwhelms her. So much so that she risks a cold-hearted affair with Jamie’s apparently fertile (and married) brother Russ. After all, Russ and Ruth seem to pop out a child almost every year. When Anna miscarries once again, she decides to turn her attentions on one of her pupils, Kali, who reminds Anna of herself when she was a lost teenager.

Both Kali and Anna are victims of mothers who are too self-absorbed in their own quests for hippy-ish freedom to take notice of their daughter’s needs. Anna takes sixteen-going-on-twenty-five Kali under her wing and tries to offer her unconditional love to compensate for her mother’s neglect.

The consequences are dire. After a promising start Kali eventually turns on her apparent protector and Anna is forced to re-evaluate her life — even if it isn’t as perfect as the un-peopled Victorian doll’s house she spends so much time maintaining.

This is a pleasant enough read, good for being read in transit, but it certainly isn’t going to win any literary awards.