The Lost Daughter
Lucretia Grindle
Grand Central Publishing 2015
480 pages

Originally published in 2014, The Lost Daughter by Lucretia Grindle is the second in a trilogy of historical fiction set within the framework of factual political events of 20th century Italy.  It’s historical backdrop and events are real, and one of the main characters is based on an actual person.  Here, the focal event is the kidnapping of the Christian Democratic Prime Minister Aldo Moro, by the Brigate Rosse (Red Brigades), a clandestine and violent organization of revolutionaries–not unlike some terrorist cells of today–who take politics into their own hands.

Lucretia Grindle combines fact and fiction well, as she weaves together an interesting story of love, guilt, betrayal and revenge.  Although designed as a fictionalised account of historic events, The Lost Daughter is easily a convincing story.

Written in five parts spanning 5 years, the story begins in 2010, when a group of 20 young American women embark on an exciting journey of independence and discovery, by studying abroad in the amazing city of Florence.

Among them is Kristin Carson.  A bit of an outcast from her peers, she develops a secret romantic relationship with a mysterious older man.

Kristin’s 18th birthday celebration is approaching.  Her father, and stepmother arrive to discover that she has gone missing.  Immediately the police are called in.

Initially Kristin’s disappearance is seen as an attention-seeking prank of a troubled teen, but when her step mother Anna likewise disappears, things take a much more sinister twist.

Ties to a terrible past begin to surface, and Anna Venetti’s disappearance takes centre stage.  The focus moves to the past, when a young woman becomes an inadvertent accomplice in one of the most significant political events of Italy’s recent history.  It is easy to get caught up in that story and forget about Kristin.  In essence, the latter’s disappearance was the decoy and catalyst for the real plot to emerge.

Although Anna’s former life becomes the more mature, politically rich and compelling plot, there is great potential to further utilize Kristin’s interesting psyche, back story, and disturbing compensatory behaviour.  It is unfortunate that this did not occur.

A bit long, and less intense and exciting for this reader’s taste, The Lost Daughter by Lucretia Grindle could use some minor technical improvements.  Even within the separate stories, the time lines flip.  Distinct chapters and tighter organisation would have been helpful.

Perhaps readers more familiar with the BR itself, and references to Ulrike Meinhof, the Baader-Meinhof Gang, and Bassani’s novel, and The Garden of the Finzi-Contini would enjoy this novel even more, and not find themselves on Wikipedia for a better understanding.  (This reader was more interested in the fiction than the facts.)

The conclusion of The Lost Daughter by Lucretia Grindle is followed by an interesting and informative section of author’s notes describing Lucretia Grindle’s fascination with Italy, and the genesis of her novel.  Also is a list of compelling discussion questions for book clubs.