Yes, My Darling Daughter
By Margaret Leroy
(Sarah Crichton Books, Hardcover, 9780374126018, 352pp.)
Publication Date: April 14, 2009
Every once in a blue moon, a masterful writer dives into gothic waters and emerges with a novel that—like Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, Minette Walters’s The Breaker, and Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend—simultaneously celebrates and transcends the tradition. Welcome Margaret Leroy to the clan. What’s the matter with Sylvie? Such a pretty girl. Four years old; well loved by her young mother, Grace. But there’s something . . . “off ” about the child. Her deathly fear of water; her night terrors; most of all, her fixation with a photo of an Irish seaside town called Coldharbour. “Sylvie, tell me about your picture. Why’s it so special, sweetheart?” My heart is racing, but I try to make my voice quite calm. “That’s my seaside, Grace.” Very matter-of-fact, as though this should be obvious. “I lived there, Grace. Before.” Grace doesn’t know what to do with this revelation—she’s barely scraping by as it is. A single mother with no family, Grace works full-time at a London flower shop to support herself and Sylvie. Overwhelmed by her inability to help her daughter, she turns to Adam Winters, a dashing psychology professor with some unusual theories about what might be troubling the child. Together, they travel to seemingly idyllic Coldharbour, hoping to understand Sylvie’s mysterious connection to the place. Impossible as it may seem, Grace has to accept that her daughter may be remembering a past life. And not only that: the danger bedeviling Sylvie from her past life is still very much a threat to her in this one. Margaret Leroy has been celebrated for writing “like a dream,” and her previous novels have been praised for their “hypnotic prose” and “sensuously ethereal, subtly electric drama.” Now, in Yes, My Darling Daughter, Leroy offers a novel both haunted and haunting—a wonderfully original, deliciously suspenseful story that enthralls from the first page to the very last.
Margaret Leroy was born in England, was born in England and studied music at Oxford. She has worked as a music therapist, teacher, and psychiatric social worker. She is the author of four previous novels.
- The story’s characters all take different positions on the supernatural: Lavinia seems very open to it, while Karen and many others are deeply suspicious of any non-scientific explanation, and warn Grace against considering it. Did you find the premise of reincarnation convincing? Do you think it’s possible that cases of reincarnation, or similar supernatural events, occur in real life.
“A stunning, engaging and enlightening tale of motherly love . . . Gothic fiction at its best.” —Katherine Bailey, Minneapolis Star-Tribune “Yes, My Darling Daughter is a charming page-turner. It is Margaret Leroy’s fifth novel, and clearly the work of an accomplished writer—a haunting book and a tantalizing read.” —Lois d. Atwood, The Providence Journal “Leroy’s fourth novel is engrossing, almost chilling, and yet, a joyous story . . . For literary readers who like a touch of the otherworldly Rebecca in their reading.” —Diane Stresing, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) “A poignant ghost story . . . Leroy is an evocative writer who expertly conjures up the cloud of fear enveloping a mother struggling to reach her child.” —Muriel Dobbin, The Washington Times “Fans of old-fashioned gothics will welcome this tale of love, betrayal and death from British author Leroy . . . Leroy’s prose lures readers into a disturbing murder mystery. Her characters are as realistic and intriguing as her locales in England and Ireland.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)