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Somebody Else's Daughter Hardcover – July 3, 2008

58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Brundage's second novel concerns ugly secrets that lie beneath the glossy veneer of a wealthy town and popular school in the Berkshires, waiting to be exposed by three new arrivals: a sculptor, her son and a writing teacher who gave up his daughter for adoption many years ago. Thrillers often make great audiobooks, because they offer frequent heart-stopping twists and turns. But this literary thriller, with its careful, delicate writing and a slow buildup to a powerful, sudden—and fairly predictable—denouement, is less suited to audio. Despite Bernadette Dunne's considerable efforts, the reading drags from time to time. Mark Bramhall only voices the prologue; the remainder of the book belongs to Dunne, who ably evokes both genders and is particularly skilled with New England accents. Despite the slowness of the story and patience required of the reader, this is a satisfying audio experience. A Viking hardcover (Reviews, May 26). (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"[A] deft balancing act of taut plot and richly drawn characters. . .Brundage is a storyteller supreme."
-Wally Lamb

"Riveting...very moving and completely involving. . . Brundage is a brilliant novelist."
-Richard Bausch

"Brundage has a penchant for turning topical subjects into gripping novels...Sex, drugs, violence and murder are all in the Brundage mix."
-The Washington Post

"[A] well-turned thriller. . . Brundage writes with startling clarity."
-St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"A taut tale of suspense rounded out with sharp observations on parenting, adoption and the fraught business of keeping up appearances."
-New York Observer

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (July 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670019003
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670019007
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,646,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Shana Schmadeke on August 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a dark, disturbing novel that was difficult to put down. I thought Brundage tackled some heavy issues in her debut novel, The Doctor's Wife, but she took on an even more massive load in Somebody Else's Daughter. Adoption, alcoholism, drug addiction, pornography, sexual abuse, murder, AIDS, prostitution, adultery. Thanks to Brundage's skill as an author, there is a lot going on, but it doesn't overwhelm. She slowly weaves together seemingly disparate story lines and characters in a masterful way that never fails to leave me in awe of her talent as a storyteller.

What I love about Brundage is how she sets up her story. She takes her time, slowly creating a sense of place and developing her characters superbly. All of this is imbued with a subtle, underlying sense of suspense. I find myself reading her opening chapters with relish, knowing that she is building, gradually and deliberately, a gripping crescendo.

A distinct difference between this novel and Brundage's debut, for me, was the likability of the characters. Though The Doctor's Wife held me in its grip, I struggled to truly like any of the characters, despite the fact that they were extremely well-developed. Reading Somebody Else's Daughter, I found it easy to love several characters. Willa was conflicted and sensitive, spurning many of the elitist attitudes she had been raised in the midst of. Several of the characters - Willa's adoptive parents, Claire the feminist sculptor, Claire's pot-smoking son Teddy - were flawed but basically, in the end, good people. And Willa's biological father, Nate, well, I kind of fell in love with him ... a struggling writer with a past, he was handsome, passionate, wise, and sensitive - a perfect hero.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By S. Morris on July 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From the very first page I was completely caught up in the lives of these characters. This is a novel about several families who are challenged by frustrating times. The story revolves around a group of people who are involved with a private school in the Berkshires. Nate, a recovered heroin addict and struggling writer, returns to the town where he had given up his baby in a private adoption seventeen years before. He is an interesting and likable character who is anxious to find resolution in his life. Other characters come into his life, including his biological daughter, Willa. I don't want to say too much to give the story away, but I became a fan of this writer when I read her first book and I was very happily surprised by this one, which is just as gripping, but somehow even more intense. I highly recommend it. If you like thrillers, but also like good literary fiction,this is a combination of both. Read it!
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I read Somebody Else's Daughter in one sitting last night, pulling my first all-nighter since college; I literally couldn't get to sleep without knowing what was going to happen.

I found the novel thrilling, suspenseful, and incredibly well written. The detail involved in depicting each character's inner thoughts and differing assessments of various situations ws truly fantastic. I'm an avid reader and I can't remember the last time I was this wowed by a novel.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By E. Appelman on September 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I was drawn into Somebody Else's daughter from the first page. Ms. Brundage created characters who were complex, believable, and ultimately like all of us- flawed or scarred in some way. I appreciated her female characters, all different, yet representative of issues women face and how they handle them. Her descriptions were poignant and the voices were real. Elizabeth, through character development, showed us the vulnerablity and disappointment of her male characters. She beautifully gave the point of view of the father having to give up his daughter for adoption, the porn-king struggling with his identity as a provider, husband and father, and the head of school fighting his personal demons. This is a thriller that packs an emotional punch. Whether you read for a great story, or you prefer character development and thought-provoking issues- this is the read for you!
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By H. Hatzenbihler on June 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
While the subject matter of the book was intriguing to me after reading the "blurb" on the back of the book, I found that the book wasn't really ABOUT somebody else's daughter. In my opinion, Brundage took a brilliant theme of fathers and daughters and twisted it into a commentary on feminism, abuse, infidelity, art, drugs... the list goes on. The book is dark and while the characters are well-developed, their interactions (especially those that are "climactic moments") are brief and unimpressive. For example, the realization by Willa's adopted father that the "mystery man teacher" is her birth father, takes 2.5 paragraphs. In the last half of that 3rd paragraph, they "kiss and make up."

Somebody Else's Daughter is an interesting, frustrating read...but not for the reasons Brundage intended. I felt overwhlemed by her commentary through the characters instead of the story and theme itself.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Kathy Cunningham TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Elizabeth Bundage's Somebody Else's Daughter is a beautifully written tale of the interconnected lives of three New England families. The novel begins as a character study, shifting its focus from perspective to perspective as we begin to unravel the mysteries and secrets that both separate and connect Bundage's many characters. Nate, a public school teacher (and recovered drug addict) with dreams of being a "real writer," accepts a job at a fancy prep school in the Berkshires, where he will have a chance to secretly get to know his daughter Willa, who was put up for adoption in infancy after her mother died of AIDS. If this sounds a bit convoluted, fasten your seatbelts, because it's just the beginning! As the story progresses, we find ourselves enmeshed in an intricate web of lies, yearning, deceit, love, and dreams. Brundage asks us to consider whether it is fate or coincidence that directs the story of our lives; she suggests that it is fate, and a fate directed by forces far greater than ourselves. This is not a religious novel, but it is a spiritual one, with characters seeking help in many forms as they navigate their very precarious journeys. The prose is poetic, the story is hauntingly addictive, and the novel is very hard to put down.

The most impressive aspect of the novel may be Bundage's ability to slowly build her characters by revealing them to us in subtle stages - we learn more about them from the perspective of their friends and enemies, than we do from their own internal musings, and finally they appear to us as full-blooded and fascinating. The opinions we form about them at the start of the novel are quite different from those we end up with - and that's both surprising and satisfying.
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