BOOK CLUB: The Runaway Daughter

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Author:Joanna Rees
Publication Date:26 February 2019
Publisher:Pan Macmillan
Copy:Courtesy of the Publisher

Joanna Rees has written a beautiful story about a young lady, Anna Darton, who has grown up in a wealthy family and experienced bullying, intimidation and trauma at the hands of her father and brother. Anna is forced to commit a crime and flees for her life, boarding a train to take her anywhere away from her family. 

Anna befriends Nancy, an American dancer at a local nightclub and becomes enthralled in the new lifestyle of fun and frivolity. Anna renames herself Verity Casey and creates a new image for herself, a new woman whom is eager to work hard, travel and enjoy life.

In reading this novel, we experience many emotions, from fear for Anna’s welfare at the hands of her manipulative and cruel brother, to the love and empathy for Anna’s mother, stuck in a world between two monstrous men and considered useless and senile. We experience the adrenaline rush of Anna’s escape, her trepidation of possibly being recognized, and such relief and happiness at her narrow escapes. But what will the future hold and how long can Anna run from her past? The stress and panic of running is taking its toll on Anna and her friends.

Joanna Rees’ has quite the portfolio of novels and is clearly an experienced writer as this was a stellar read. The characters are well developed, each having vastly different personalities, aspirations and agendas. The reader is immersed in the frivolity of 1920s society and it is easy to imagine the many parties they attend, and the drugs, alcohol and sex experienced by men and women determined to enjoy their youth. Joanna touches on various societal topics of the early 20thcentury including homosexuality, feminism and workers rights and this gives an intriguing insight into the experiences and mindset of that era. 

I commend Joanna Rees on this beautiful novel; certainly a great read from an experienced author. Thank you to Pan MacMillan and Beauty & Lace Book Club for the opportunity to read and review this novel. This was an absolute page turner and I would happily recommend this to anyone who enjoys drama filled novels.

This guest review was submitted by DebMitchell, one of our Beauty and Lace Club members. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us Deb.

Joanna Rees can be found on Facebook, her Websiteand Twitter.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan 15 of our Beauty and Lace Club memberswill be reading The Runaway Daughter so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below. I can’t wait to hear what our readers thought.

12 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Runaway Daughter

  1. I really love thick books that I can dive into and know that I can spend some time with the characters so when my copy of The Runaway Daughter arrived I was really pleased to see that it was a good 480+ pages of book that was made up with 113 chapters which was awesome for me as the short chapters made this book super easy reading and perfect with all the time I spent reading in Hospital waiting rooms and treatment clinics.

    We first meet Anna as she is fleeing from her family home after she had been backed into a corner and forced to commit a crime and she knows she will be on the police radar from now on so she must go as far away as possible and take on a new identity. She reaches London and quite by chance meets Nancy who mistakes her for someone else. Anna quickly invents the name Verity Casey and runs with it. Her meeting with Nancy opens doors for her and she is thrust into her new life which is much more lively, colourful and sinful then her old life where she was very much under the control of the males in the household. Although she finds some aspects of her new life quite shocking she also feels so free and alive. She makes new friends and finds ways to make money to support herself but always lurking in the background is the fear that she will be discovered and have to pay for the crime she committed. She hides this secret from all her new friends. In time of course her past life catches up with her and she has to think and act quickly to save herself.

    I loved this book and I am excited to know that its the first book in what is to be three. I can not wait for the next book which already is on my list of ‘must reads’ Joanna Rees has a new fan in me. This really is an awesome book and as I stated previously the short chapters make it so easy to read especially if you are in a situation where you might have quite a few interruptions.

    1. Anna Dayton finds herself fleeing from her home after being in an unusual predicament in which she needs to escape.
      The story is set in the 1920 when women were quite oppressed and did not have a voice. Finding herself in a very vulnerable situation with no home and on the streets of London her luck changes dramatically and within a few days she is lucky enough to get a job, a friend and somewhere decent to live.
      The story line to me was a bit far fetched but I thoroughly enjoyed the authors description of London in that era along with the life,costumes and behaviours at the dance clubs.
      Thankyou Beauty and Lace and Pan MacMillan for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  2. Thank you Beauty and Lace and MacMillan for the opportunity to read and review The Runaway Daughter. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.
    I love the era in which it is set and feel that the author really captures the essence of London in the 1920s.
    The story is well written and the characters are believable.
    Anna the main character is so engaging. it’s wonderful to get to know her as we follow her journey to London and share her new life there with all it’s pitfalls and adventures.
    This is the first book of Joanna Rees that I have read and I look forward to reading many more.

  3. Anna Dayton is on the run after committing a crime. She has left her home and family. A life where she was bullied by her Father and brother. A life where it is expected she would marry the man her father has selected for her, a means to merge properties and increase her families wealth. 1926 is a difficult time for free thinking and adventurous females.

    Anna ends up in London and by chance she meets Nancy, a dancer at a notorious Night Club. Anna reinvents herself as Verity Casey and also gains employment as a dancer at the Zip Club. She hopes no one will recognise her . She has new confidence, new hair style and new clothes. Her new friends are interesting and colourful.Her life is exciting and she dreams of her own business.

    However the past has a way of catching up! Strange and hurtful things are happening to her new friends. There are lots of twists and turns. Will those looking for Anna find her or will she escape to continue her new life elsewhere !

    I have since found out that this is book 1 of a historical trilogy. I will be definitely looking out for the next book !

    Thankyou to Beauty and Lace and Pan MacMillan for the opportunity to read The Runaway Daughter by Joanna Rees.
    Definitely a great read, thouroughly recommend this book !

    Another interesting fact is Joanna Rees also writes under the name Josie Lloyd and co writes with her husband Emlyn Rees. They are parents of 3 girls and are the writers of that wonderful parody of “Going on a Bear Hunt” which is “Going on a Bar Hunt”. That is well worth a read too !

  4. The Runaway Daughter begins with a young woman named Anna Darton on a freight train to London.
    The year is 1926, and Anna is running away from her family home after committing a crime. (As the story unfolds, we learn more about the crime, but I won’t elaborate so as not to spoil it for others).
    When she arrives in London, a chance encounter with a young woman named Nancy, who is an American dancer at a well-known nightclub, sees Anna welcomed into Nancy’s world, and Anna is soon invited to become a member of the dance group at The Zip Club.
    Grateful for the opportunity that she is given, Anna reinvents herself as Verity ‘Vita’ Casey, and is soon swept up into the world of parties, dancing, and fashion. She experiences many new things, even dabbling in drinking and drugs. She also changes her hair and her style in the hope that nobody from her past will recognise her.
    Vita begins to make friends, including Percy, a costume maker. The two become great pals, and Vita’s interest in fashion becomes something more. She hopes to turn it into a business opportunity after realising that she cannot simply be a dancer if she wants to make it on her own.
    She also meets the handsome Archie Fenwick, and after a while, he declares his love for Vita and promises to always be there for her.
    But just when it looks as though Vita is adapting to her new way of life, her past begins to catch up with her and when those close to her start to get hurt, she realises that she must make the decision to confront it, or risk everything that means something to her.

    I enjoyed this story, but felt it was a little long (it is just under 500 pages). I have just found out that it is the first in a trilogy so I am interested to see where this story goes from here. I felt that the ending was a little rushed but knowing that it is the first in the trilogy makes sense that it ended that way.
    I’d recommend for those who enjoy historical fiction novels. Thank you for the opportunity to read and review!

  5. The Runaway Daughter by Joanna Rees is the story of Anna Darton who grew
    up in a wealthy family in the north of England but was traumatised by her father and brother and flees for her life under stressful circumstances.

    She boards a train not knowing where it is heading but finally arrives in London with very little money and nowhere to stay.

    This is set in the 1920’s when great changes were happening in regard to sexuality, feminism, rights for workers and Anna finds herself in the middle of these controversies.

    In London she meets Nancy a dancer in a nightclub and reinvents herself as Verity Casey ( Vita ) to gain employment as a dancer. Vita makes many new friends including Percy who helps her with her interest in fashion and hopes she can one day have her own business.

    In the meantime she is exposed to many things that are new to her like parties, alcohol and drugs.

    Then she meets a handsome gentleman Archie Fenwick who promises her the world but her past life is starting to catch up with her.

    This is an extremely enjoyable read with so much going on and an incredible cast of characters.

    I highly recommend this book and look forward to the follow up.

    Many thanks for the opportunity to read and review this.

  6. The Runaway Daughter by Joanna Rees is set in England in the 1920’s and is the story of Anna Darton who is from a wealthy family from the North. After a horrible upbringing from her father and also her brother Clement, Anna flees this life. When she flees her home and boards a train she doen’t really know where she is headed. Finally Anna arrives in London with no money, not knowing anyone and nowhere to stay.

    In London she meets Nancy a club dancer and instead of letting people know who she really is Anna changes her name to Verity Casey known as Vita. She is not a dancer but with the help of Nancy she is able to gain employment in the club. Here she makes new friends who live a life filled with parties, alcohol and drugs.

    Verity meets Archie Fenwick who charms her with dinners and gifts but unbeknown to her Archie’s mother has other plans for Archie’s future. This is also when her past life starts to catch up with her as Clement has been trying to locate her so he can keep punishing her. What will happen to Verity Casey?

    Fantastic read that kept me turning the pages, would highly recommend to anyone that likes a historical storyline.

  7. Well done, Deb Mitchell, on your review of Joanna Rees’ The Runaway Daughter. Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Macmillan for my copy.
    While there is much to like about The Runaway Daughter – the cover is beautiful and meaningful, the short chapters are easy to read – it didn’t live up to my expectations. I expected it to be brilliant but it fell short for me. It was really long and I found parts of it a little tedious. The historical era was well presented and many of the social issues were explored well. I enjoyed the descriptions of London in the period it was written and learnt quite a lot about the nightclub activities of that time.
    I did find it a little unreal that someone with Anna Dalton’s upbringing being incredibly narrow could reinvent herself as Verity Casey who became a dancer in a nightclub with dubious reputations but I can also accept that necessity plays a part that would differ from the normality.
    The way the costuming and the making of the costumes is described is particularly interesting.

  8. Thank you so much Beauty and Lace Bookclub and Pan MacMillan for the opportunity to read this beautiful book.

    From the moment I picked it up I just couldn’t put it down. The exciting adventure of Anna Darton or should I say Verity Casey – Vita. From the unfortunate events and pure evil that pushed her to run and re-invent herself and become someone that she would want to be in her wildest dreams and making a name for herself with the help of some amazing friends that took her under their wings. There where some ups and downs in the book and definitely some heart breaking moments that showed Vita things weren’t always as they seemed or shall we say people are not always as they seemed. She definitely learnt some valuable lessons. I cant wait to see if there will be another book as at the end it left it open too.

  9. I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Runaway Daughter by Joanna Rees.
    A lovely big book that I could start reading and just not want to put down.
    Set in the 1920’s we have our main character Anna Darton who is on the run from a crime she was forced to commit.
    She finds herself alone and scared in London where she meets an American dancer called Nancy who helps Anna re invent herself in to a dancer at a notorious nightclub. She finds herself in a world of flapper girls , dancing, parties and fashion.
    Her world is turned upside down , she learns some valuable lessons in this new world she is inhabiting
    She meets Archie Fenwick and despite believing that he will love her no matter what, her past is catching up with her .
    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Pan MacMillan for the chance to read and review this thoughly enjoyable read..

  10. The Runaway Daughter was the first of Joanna Rees’ books I have read (funnily enough I also came across We’re Going on a Bar Hunt while searching for We’re Going on a Bear Hunt for my 7 month old at the same time).
    Anyway back to Anna Darton or should I say Vita Casey’s story. There was a lot to enjoy in this book, however as normally happens when I am reading historical fiction, there were many characters who I wanted to get my hands on! Clement (Anna’s brother) obviously being one of them!
    The story kept me on my toes as I worried about Vita being caught by Clement. When I reached the end I did think it a little strange but have been reminded by reading some of the other reviews above that this is the first in a trilogy so I will have to wait for book #2 to be published.
    In the meantime I will definitely be checking out some of Joanna’s other titles.
    Thank you to MacMillan and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read and review this title.

  11. I absolutely loved this book! I could barely put it down. I spent most of the book really feeling for Anna/Verity, and admired her courage and determination. If I could reach through the pages of a book and punch a character in the face, I would definitely punch Clement, and hard!

    The story is quite gripping, and I found myself walking in Verity’s shoes, seeing and experiencing London as she works at the Zip Club and builds on her underwear designs. You really get a feel for what living in London in the 1920s was like.

    I’m so glad I got to read and enjoy this book!

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