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The Secret Life of Daisy Fitzjohn

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  436 ratings  ·  111 reviews
Daisy Fitzjohn knows there are two worlds: the outside world and the world of Brightwood Hall, her home--and the only place she’s ever been. Daisy and her mother have everything they need within its magnificent, half-ruined walls. They may not have a computer or phone, but Daisy has all the friends she could want, including a mischievous talking rat named Tar and the ghost ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 10th 2016 by Orion Children's Books
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Polenth Blake
Daisy has never left her home in Brightwood Hall. She lives a comfortable life with her mother, surrounded by the history of her family. Until her mother disappears, and a man appears at the house.

The fact that Daisy has never left Brightwood Hall already hints that something odd is going on. That something is her mother experiencing a trauma as a child. She hoards supplies and other items, to the point of filling up the rooms in the manor house with storage shelves. She only leaves to get suppl
Mar 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It’s rare in fiction you can say your favourite characters are a hedge and a rodent; but True, the topiary horse, is heartbreakingly brave and honest, and Tar, the black rat, has a delicious love of language almost as obsessive as his appreciation of filthy food. These are the kind of characters that populate this magical tale, just as they populate the secret, lonely world of Daisy Fitzjohn.

Daisy is an 11 year old, born and brought up in her mother’s grand old house; Brightwood Hall. But she ha
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever been a home body, a person who doesn't like to leave their home? What about if there was someone who NEVER left their home...until this moment. Little girl, Daisy Fitzjohn, has never left her house in her life. Nobody knows she exists. She eats, sleeps, learns, and plays all in the comfort of her home. Brightwood is a mansion that has been own by the Fitzjohn family for many generations, but now a man who was once part of that happy life will return...uninvited. Soon before the mys ...more
Angela Smith
This was an ARC copy of the story in exchange for a fair and honest review.

A book suitable for children aged 10 years + and although it is not meant for my age group it had the feel of childhood books I had read when I was that age. It relied on your imagination as well as the imagination and the will to survive of an 11 year old girl ( Daisy Fitzjohn)

Daisy is left alone in her home when her mother fails to return. Daisy is unlike other children, she has never left the grounds of her family home
Sep 11, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, audiobooks, 2020
I'm surprised at how much I liked this! The writing is beautiful and complex for a kid's book, but it definitely reads for kids. I loved Daisy's character despite acting rather slow at times. (She's a smart kid but had to rely on Frank for a LOT of clues. It was quite frustrating.) She handled her situation quite well and I liked how it ended. I was actually shedding a tear, sad to leave this story.

Overall, a magically book for middle grade readers! Recommended for grades 4+ (mention of death, v
Amanda Coppedge
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mg, read-in-2018
Reminded me of Zilpha Keatley Snyder in all the best ways! I would have read and re-read this one as a child.

Spoilery thoughts on portrayal of mental illness in the book. (view spoiler)
Jun 03, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
full review up here!

3.5 stars for this thrilling middle grade read! I would definitely recommend giving it a try when it comes out in september :) thanks to netgalley and algonquin young readers for allowing me to read this one!
This book was gifted to me by my dear friend Stepanie. In the letter, she enclosed the pages she described accurately, depicting how it feels to be a child. This fact is what makes its heroine Daisy so relatable, at least to a child who's mind worked the way mine did and-i suspect- Stephanie' as well.
Thirty years ago, Caroline Fitzjohn avoided her family's tragic fate when she got off the family yacht to fetch her dolls missing shoe. The yacht left without her. There is an explosion. Her broth
John Naylor
Apr 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book for free via Goodreads First Reads.

I found this to be a very interesting concept. An eleven year old girl who has never set foot outside of her own garden. The reason why is understandable if misguided without giving away the plot. She has had no interaction with anyone in that time except for her mother. This has caused her imagination to run wild and to give voices to trees, paintings and other things as well as her pet rat (which I love that she named it Tar as I used to
Sarah Monsma
Nov 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Daisy Fitzjohn and her mother have everything they need in the mansion that is their home. In fact, Daisy has never been outside the grounds, not even to accompany her mother on her weekly shopping trips. But one Monday morning Daisy wakes to hear her mother leaving in the car, which is puzzling. Wednesday is shopping day, so where could her mother possibly be going? When Daisy’s mother fails to return and when a long lost cousin arrives hoping to develop the property, Daisy will have to use her ...more
Dec 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eleven year old Daisy has never left the grounds of her home, Brightwood mansion, where she lives with her mother. She has never even spoken to another person in her life. She has no idea what the outside world is like at all. Her mother is a hoarder, filling a box a day with things to help her remember and the house is so full that it has become a maze. One day, Daisy's mother goes out to the store, and does not return. Then, a man shows up at the house. He claims to be her cousin. He is not a ...more
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Almost all of Daisy Fitzjohn's family is killed with the sinking of the family yacht. Only her mother survives. Daisy has spent her entire life never leaving her family estate during her Brightwood. One day her mother leaves to go to town but she never returns leaving Daisy alone with ( with her pet rat and ghost friend Frank) A mysterious relative shows up who becomes increasingly threatening to her and she suspects fowl play regarding her mother's disappearance. The mid portion of the book dr ...more
Katelyn Bolds
Jun 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A whimsical thriller? Not sure how to describe this book, filled with talking animals, a ghostly girl explorer, and a menacing cousin trying to claim Brightwood Hall as his own...
Brilliantly written. Highly recommended.

received as an ARC.
Clare Doornbos
I loved the beginning of this book, the spooky magical feel of the house and the psychological trauma kept at bay with Daisy's imagination. Unfortunately, I wasn't prepared for the full-on descent into a deranged-killer horror story, that unfolded in the last 60 pages. ...more
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
4.5 stars
Kristina Jean Lareau
Half way through and gave up. The premise was so promising, but the narrative failed to deliver.
My Bookish Delights
I purchased this book because I love books with big old houses and hotels as a setting and, honestly, the cover made it seem magical. I knew from the description that it was going to be kind of mysterious or whatever, but it was more of a mystery-thriller and I wasn't prepared for that. I will have to have a disclaimer though that I'm a big scaredy-cat. I don't normally like to read scary books and I don't enjoy thrillers. I don't like being scared. I have anxiety and I don't like to feed the be ...more
Maureen Lubitz
Nov 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Originally posted on You Have Your Hands Full

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Brightwood is a middle grade novel written by Tania Unsworth. This was originally published under the title The Secret Life of Daisy Fitzjohn, but the name was changed for the American edition.

Daisy Fitzjohn is a young girl living in a manor house in England. Her life is quite unconventional. To begin with, she has never left Brightwood Hall; this is a modern

I'm not sure quite what I expected this book to be, but I found it a rather surprising sort of read. For one thing, there are only two human characters for most of the story, and secondly, the house, Brightwood Hall, is such an integral part of the story that it almost feels like a character itself. Daisy's mother, Caroline Fitzjohn is the first person we meet in the story, just as she and her family set off on their yacht. But Caroline leaves to ship to go looking for her doll's lost shoe and t
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Engrossing and charmingly original. Beautifully written.

Daisy has never left Brightwood, living there with her reclusive artist mom, who makes a box of every day so she doesn't lose the memory, after losing her whole living (even though rich) family as a child when their yacht exploded.

Then one day her mom leaves, off her usual shop schedule, and a man appears. Who is he and what does he want?

Ominous. Great. "No one knows you exist."

Daisy not entirely alone: she has her pet rat, Tar, who grad
Gabriela Montes
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mandy Wultsch
Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Daisy Fitzjohn has never been off her property, where she lives with her mother. Every day her mother makes a "day box," a box that she fills with items that remind her of what happened that day. Her mother goes to town for supplies, but spends most of her time at the house due to a traumatic event that happened when she was six years old. Daisy is not lonely though; she has (possibly imaginary) friends to keep her company.

Her mother goes into town on a different day than normal and does not com
American Mensa
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In Brightwood, Tania Unsworth spins a bone-chilling mystery novel about a Daisy Fitzjohn. Daisy Fitzjohn has never stepped outside of the safety of her home called Brightwood, staying only with her mom. When Daisy's mother does not return from a shopping trip, Daisy is left alone and a stranger begins to creep around the mansion.

What made this novel stand out the most was its main characters. As someone who has minimal contact with people other than her mom, Daisy has created many imaginary fri
Matthew Hendricks
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book as an uncorrected digital proof from the publisher, via Edelweiss.

Daisy Fitzjohn knows there are two worlds: the outside world and the world of her home, a secluded mansion called Brightwood Hall. But only Brightwood is real for Daisy--she’s never once set foot outside its grounds. Daisy and her mother have everything they need within Brightwood’s magnificent, half-ruined walls, including Daisy’s best friends: a talking rat named Tar and the ghost of a long-ago explorer who
What an interesting book! When I first added this to my Goodreads list, based on the book summary, I marked it as Paranormal fiction. However, the use of the term "ghost" is misleading. I don't want to give anything away, but if you've read Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper," you might have some clue as to why it isn't truly a paranormal story.

Even though my status updates show that it took me six days to read this book, it's really a pretty quick read (about 3-4 hours, depending
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a delightful surprise. I took a chance on a book and a writer who I absolutely no previous knowledge about and dove right into it.
Actually, I think this book could be very scary to children. More so than "horror" books because of the situational theme. I am not saying it is too scary or that an adult who favors horror books should read it.
It is more the idea that a child is left completely alone with a stranger on her private estate. This has to be one of the scariest things a child could f
Sep 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: juv, suspense
When Caroline Fitzjohn was a little girl, she survived a terrible tragedy. As an adult, she lives at Brightwood, the Fitzjohn family estate. Her daughter Daisy is 11 and has never set foot outside the gates. They live in solitude in the splendor of the old house, with piles and piles of food and supplies; no one even knows Daisy exists. Then one day her mother goes to the bulk-buy store and doesn't come home: odd and unusual in and of itself, but then a man in a silver car arrives. It is clear f ...more
Jan 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely would have devoured this book as a kid! I remember flying through a Geography test so fast that I got a note sent home in the 4th grade because I wanted to read a book instead of do schoolwork, not much has changed 😊 Toted as "Home Alone meets Coraline", "Brightwood" by Tania Unsworth was a perfect blend of mystery and fantasy, centered in a massive home where mother and daughter have rule of the roost, with no plans to change it until things go awry. From the sinister opening to th ...more
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