The Drowning Lesson

The Drowning Lesson

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- with thanks to Penguin UK-Michael Joseph

Previously reviewed by the same author:


Emma and Adam are doctors at the top of their fields and so when they are offered the chance to take their three children to Africa for a year for a research placement it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. It’s going to be an experience they’ll never forget.

But for all the wrong reasons.

When Emma arrives home one night to the sickening sight of an empty cot, their family’s dream adventure turns into their worst nightmare.

Thousands of miles from home and from anyone who can help, they must discover the truth. Is this a random abduction, a tragic accident or something far more sinister?


I really enjoyed Jane Shemilt’s debut novel, Daughter, so when I found out about The Drowning Lesson I knew I had to read it ASAP. For me, The Drowning Lesson didn’t quite live up to the author’s debut, but it was still a decent thriller which didn’t take me long to read at all.

The Drowning Lesson centres around Emma and her husband Adam. Both Emma and Adam are in the medical profession and are highly successful in their fields. They are definitely over achievers…Emma has a little bit of jealousy over Adam’s successes and wants to be as good as him, if not better. Adam gets the opportunity to go to Botswana for research for a year. Emma and the family could go with him but her competitive streak wants her to push her own work over Adam’s. Emma finally goes out to Botswana, but the family return with one less child and the family’s world is thrown upside down.

I really enjoyed how Jane Shemilt used flashbacks to explore the story. I’m not always a fan of flashbacks as sometimes I think it can make the story feel very stilted, however, I really think it worked well with The Drowning Lesson. The opening chapter lets the reader know about the missing child and throughout the story more information is teased out, slowly building the intrigue.

I don’t think the characters in this story are necessarily likeable. I found Emma in particular to be a rather cold and unlikeable character. It was hard to sympathise with her, even though she was taking the right steps to get her child back. I felt like there wasn’t enough emotion in the book, considering what had happened.

I would also say that the ending felt rather rushed, which is a shame. There are twists and turns which keep you guessing though as you try and work out exactly what has gone on. I do think this book is well worth reading, it just didn’t quite match up to Daughter for me.

Would I recommend it?:

A decent thriller worth exploring!

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