Book Quote:

“He always sings in the car. He has a low voice scraped out by cigarettes and all the yelling he does. His big pointy Adam’s apple bobs up and down, turning the tanned skin white wherever it moves. He reaches for the puppy in my lap. ‘You’s a good little rascal. Yes you is,’ he says in his dog voice, a happy, hopeful voice he doesn’t use much on people.”

Book Review:

Review by Jill I. Shtulman (JUL 30, 2010)

Years ago, I sent out a birthday invitation with the theme, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” Funny – or so I thought.

But for Daley Amory, the main character of Lily King’s poignant and at times heartbreaking Father of the Rain, those words are anything but funny. We meet her as an 11-year-old, torn between the liberal and do-good world of her mother and the conservative, erratic, liquor-soaked world of her charismatic and arrogant father. A WASP of the first-degree – rich, Harvard-educated, disconnected – his signature phrase, while lying on his chaise chair, drink in one hand, cigarette in the other, is, “I wonder what the poor people are doing today.”

Daley soon learns the rules of engagement with her father: “In my father’s culture there is no room for self-righteousness or even earnestness. To take something seriously is to be a fool. It has to be all irony, disdain and mockery. Passion is allowed only for athletics. Achievements off the court or playing field open the achiever up to ridicule. Achievement in any realm other than sports is a tell-tale sign of having taken something seriously.”

This could fall into the world of stereotype or cliché – the toxic, alcoholic father and the daughter who tries to please him. But it doesn’t. Lily King takes great pains to paint Gardiner Amory – the father – as damaged but not evil. It is inevitable that the grown Daley try to reconnect with him and be the savior, attempting to liberate him from his alcohol dependency…as if that would make everything all right.

Her beau will say to her: “Oh Daley…you want the daddy you never got. You want him to make your whole childhood okay…You’ve got it nicely cloaked in a gesture of great sacrifice.”

The heartbreak, of course, is that none of us can ever “fix” another human being or get our childhood back. As Daley becomes more and more immersed in his world, falling into her charismatic and narcissistic father’s gravitational orbit, the stakes get higher and higher. There is not a false note in this authentic book, which takes the reader right into the vortex of a broken family relationship gone asunder. It is a compelling psychological study of how much we give up – including our own survival – to try to save and repair those relationships that are most dear to us. In a non-manipulative way, this book will pull at your heartstrings and stay with you.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-5from 53 readers
PUBLISHER: Atlantic Monthly Press; 1 edition (July 6, 2010)
REVIEWER: Jill I. Shtulman
EXTRAS: Reading Guide
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: More Father/Daughter stories:


July 30, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Character Driven, Contemporary, Family Matters, Literary, NE & New York, Reading Guide, y Award Winning Author

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