The Lost Daughter

By Lucy Ferriss

(Berkley, $15, 400 pages)

Who is this author?

Lucy Ferriss, who is about to leave for Pakistan to research a new book, is writer-in-residence at Trinity College and has homes in West Hartford and the Berkshires. But her roots are mid-Western, specifically in St. Louis, as those who read her fascinating memoir, “Unveiling the Prophet: The Misadventures of a Reluctant Debutante,” know.

Ferriss has written nine books, including novels and short–story collections. She also writes literary criticism, poetry and essays, as well as contributing to such publications as The New York Times, Shenandoah and the Georgia Review. In 2000, she won the Mid-List First Series Award for “Leaving the Neighborhood and Other Stories.”

“The Lost Daughter” has just been published, and next in line is a historical novel, “The Woman Who Bought the Sky,” to be followed by the novel she will be researching in Pakistan.

 You can learn more about her at You also can hear her give a free talk about the book on Thursday, April 5, at 7 p.m. at the West Hartford Public Library, 20 S. Main St., West Hartford. Information: 860-561-6990.

What is this book about?

Flash backward: Two teens, Brooke and Alex, hiding a secret pregnancy, rent a motel room to deliver a baby they expect to be born dead, if the special teas the girl has been drinking have done their job. Flash forward: Brooke is now a woman, married, with a daughter – and a marriage foundering under financial and emotional strains. Re-enter Alex, now divorced, grieving a son who has died and bearing a secret that will shock Brooke, who has worked hard to maintain a happy façade, to her core.

Ferriss uses this highly dramatic plot to explore issues of marriage, fidelity, parenthood and sometimes inconvenient but always necessary truth-telling. Told by various narrators, including the lost daughter herself, this novel presents flawed people (as we all are) who battle their emotions at great cost, but eventually reach a comforting conclusion.

Why you’ll like it:

While Ferriss gives her novel a highly dramatic plot, she gives her characters very believable characteristics. Brooke is a woman deeply invested in making her family life appear smooth and happy; her husband, Sean, whose job is shaky, is understandably suspicious when Alex re-enters Brooke’s life. And there is another character (hard to describe without giving too much away), whose perspective is sharp, poignant and perhaps the most astute, some reviewers are saying.

This is a compelling story of connections that refuse to remain hidden, and the cleansing power of truth.

What others are saying:

“Ferriss moves the plot along at a fast clip, deftly weaving together recollections of the past and, as the disturbing truth of Brooke’s secret slowly emerges, the present. All the while, Ferriss infuses the story with a heady dose of realism. Financial crisis looms as businesses close, workers get laid off, and consultants are brought in to “streamline.” “Lost Daughter” manages to be a romantic family novel with a palpable atmosphere of impending calamity. Sure, there’s a happy ending, but that doesn’t mean everything’s right in the world,” says Booklist.

“An unflinching study of parenthood . . . convincing, Franzen-style realism . . . a powerful domestic novel,” says Kirkus Reviews

Says Wally Lamb: “The Lost Daughter” delivers the goods: flawed but sympathetic characters and a plot that will keep readers turning the pages voraciously

When is it available?

“The Lost Daughter” can be found on the new books shelf at the Hartford Public Library.

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