The Favorite Daughter was a book that kind of jumped out at me due to the premise. Jane Harris is coming off a year of grieving for her oldest daughter, who died tragically in a fall off a cliff. We're led to believe initially that the fall was an accident, but through Jane's internal monologue and the story progression we soon begin to suspect that it may have been anything but accidental. The thing that makes this story interesting is that Jane is not a great person. Part of the fun is trying to figure out what exactly is wrong with her- is she just an unreliable narrator, is she a psychopath, or what?
She's been drinking heavily and taking pills on the advice of her therapist, and it's clear early on that she does not have a good relationship with her husband David or her youngest daughter Betsy. Both of them are pretty fed up with her, and we quickly glean that it's not because of her grieving- it's because she's manipulative, vindictive and downright nasty. At the same time, however, her husband may be nursing secrets of his own, and Betsy may or may not have a secret boyfriend she's keeping from her mother. And you do not keep secrets from Jane! If she suspects something's up, she's not above checking it out- and that includes spying on social media accounts to, well, let's just say more intensive methods of observation.
I laughed at times while reading- Jane is so out there- and some of her exploits had me cracking up even as she horrified me as well. The writing style is conversational, with Jane talking to the reader, and often injecting her thoughts on all kinds of subjects- but usually it's about marriages going bad, people keeping secrets, and the joys and travails of raising teenagers. She's so unfiltered too- the first time she thought of Betsy as a loser I was shocked- we don't imagine parents thinking of their kids that way- but again, Jane calls them like she sees them!
The only real complaint I had was the ending. Things seem to be wrapped up a little too conveniently, and I was surprised the ending wasn't more satisfying. Still, there are some nice twists throughout, and there's one particular moment where Jane gets revenge on someone who has wronged her- and even though Jane is terrible, this other person was no angel either, and I felt a guilty pleasure at enjoying their downfall. And that's something else this book provides- a bit of a guilty pleasure. I mean, how often do you get to read the perspective of someone who's awful, but just sympathetic enough that you (kind of) root for her?
This book was not what I expected- I was thinking this would be a thriller with a mother struggling to keep her family together, and the blurb definitely had me expecting some shenanigans from the husband and daughter! It read differently than I was expecting, but in a note at the end the author explains where she was going with this story, and honestly- I had a lot of fun with this, even as I couldn't wait to see what Jane would do next.