Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT The Doctor’s Daughter by @VanessaMatthews #wwwblogs

Today’s team review comes form Alison, she blogs at

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Alison chose to read and review The Doctor’s Daughter by Vanessa Matthews


The Doctor’s Daughter by Vanessa Matthews

I had really high expectations of this novel having seen some excellent reviews. There is no doubt that Ms Matthews can write, and write well, and this is a very clever story, with some fabulously drawn characters, a wonderful attention to historical detail and a real sense of time and place that lends the novel a real authenticity.

The subject matter is dark in places and the characters are portrayed flaws and all, in an unflinching manner that some may find difficult to read. This wasn’t an issue for me – I prefer characters to be realistic, to behave in a way that is believable and admire and appreciate authors that don’t resort to happily-ever-afters or false sentimentality.

Marta is an intriguing character, and it is refreshing for a novel to feature such an interesting heroine. Elise, somewhat softer than Marta, is also a very readable character. I wanted to know more about them both and was interested in what happened to them.

The plot is dark and full of twists and surprises, all very gripping, well-paced and intelligently written.

So there is much to admire in this novel and much to admire in Ms Matthews’ writing. However, I felt so frustrated by this book. There is so much potential here but there is too much ‘telling’ rather than ‘showing’. We are given a lot of background details about characters and their experiences and feelings in big sections of prose, rather than being ‘shown’ these things, experiencing them with the characters.

Dialogue sometimes felt rather unnatural and too formal.

The most frustrating thing for me though was that most of the dialogue was punctuated incorrectly throughout the book; not just once or twice, an error that could be overlooked, but consistently. The author obviously cares about her novel, about her craft, which is why I was so surprised by these errors. It may not seem like a big issue or something to be so frustrated by, but I found myself increasingly irritated. Maybe I’m being overly pedantic, but it’s frustrating that the author has obviously put so much into this book and yet has overlooked something so basic.

It’s a real shame, because this could be an absolutely brilliant novel.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Find a copy here from or


11 thoughts on “Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT The Doctor’s Daughter by @VanessaMatthews #wwwblogs

  1. I’ve considered and rejected this novel a few times, Alison – it interests me but the comments are so varied. Unrealistic dialogue is a deal-breaker for me, though I can live with it being badly punctuated if it’s really good! I also don’t mind ‘telling not showing’ in that way, if it’s told well. Very good review, my dear!


  2. I’m currently reading the book (around the 25% mark), and while I’m intrigued by the story, the punctuation errors in the dialogue are driving me potty. I keep saying, ignore it, ignore it, but it’s difficult. I know I’m highly sensitive to these things because I’m a proofreader, but I can’t work out how a well-written book has ended up with these errors. I wish I had a window in my schedule because I’d really like to offer to help this author.


  3. Oh this is a really well balanced review telling me all I need to know, good job Alison! I am intrigued by this book so will put it on my TBR and as I’m probably guilty of the most heinous of punctuation errors, and therefore am eternally grateful to my proofreader, I shall be interested to see if I get irritated in the same way as others.


  4. My issues with the novel were a bit different, although after talking to a proofreader recently I’ve realised that perhaps reading so many books in so many stages of editing has made me immune to certain things. I’m sure a few of us could get in touch with the author if you think you have the time, Wendy (I think I have her contact details).


    • Olga, yes please send her contact details to me. Although I’m busy, I’d really like to make some recommendations of proofreaders she could contact, or even just give some advice on punctuation of dialogue.


  5. Alison, I think it’s important to take technical skill into consideration when reviewing a book. Like you, I get annoyed when sentences are poorly punctuated. I can’t enjoy a story with all those distractions. And sadly, if the book is self-published, it gives indies a bad rep–or is that “bad rap”? Ha, ha!


  6. Character detail is important to me in reading a book, so I can understand your frustration with the characters and their too formal dialogue.
    @dino0726 from 
    FictionZeal – Impartial, Straightforward Fiction Book Reviews


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