Father of the Rain Hardcover – Large Print, Sep 1 2010
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There's an emotional heft to Father of the Rain that comes not in the form of high drama, but in the feel of its characters. Daley Amory is an acute and attentive witness to her parents' divorce, which coincides with the larger dissolution of Nixon's presidency--itself a particularly appropriate historical counterpoint for a novel that explores how fiercely parents and children can polarize. Daley's father, Gardiner, is a jovial but capricious blue-blood New Englander, an alcoholic whose behavior is increasingly erratic and punishing to the point that Daley finally breaks away--in spite of how much she loves him--for much of her adult life. She is resilient, a woman you can respect but also challenge, and her love is (ultimately, amazingly) uncomplicated and true. The award-winning author of two previous novels, Lily King has long been admired for her deft, graceful characterization, and in no novel is this more evident than Father of the Rain. She takes on difficult characters but never vilifies them, choosing instead to seek out the feelings they shield, raise them up, and set them free. --Anne Bartholomew --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
"Father of the Rain" is a big, powerful punch of a novel, a gripping epic about a father and daughter that plumbs the dark side of a family riven by addiction and mental illness. . . . There s something so raw and affecting about Daley s love for her damaged father that the book will linger in your mind long after you ve finished it. "Entertainment Weekly" (A) Marilynne Robinson s "Home" and Roxana Robinson s "Cost" are the most exquisite recent [literary] examples . . . of what living with an addict must be like. . . . Now Lily King s "Father of the Rain" is a worthy companion on this theme. Surprising and wise . . . by a writer who understands the horrible burden of trying to save someone who s ruining your life. . . . A brilliant exploration of the attraction of martyrdom, the intoxication of playing savior. . . . King poses the questions so powerfully that you can t answer them easily: What kind of abuse finally abrogates one s responsibility to a self-destructive parent? What is too much to ask of a child? . . . An absorbing, insightful story written in cool, polished prose right to the last conflicted line. "Washington Post" Spellbinding . . . Marvelous . . . A story of high drama in the court of Nixon-era New England aristocracy . . . King brilliantly captures the gravitational pull of the past and the way it can eclipse the promise of the present. . . . You won t be able to stop reading this book, but when you do finally finish the last delicious page and look up, you will see families in a clearer and more forgiving way. "Vanity Fair" Luminous . . . Uplifting . . . Fresh, with vividly drawn characters . . . and a clear eye for the details of their singularly messed-up relationships. "O, the Oprah Magazine" King infuses soul into this tale of a family torn apart by abuse. "Marie Claire "(Summer Reads) King is a beautiful writer, with equally strong gifts for dialogue and internal monologue. Silently or aloud, her characters betray the inner tumult they conceal as they try to keep themselves together . . . [and] demonstrate through their confusions that what we like to call coming-of-age is a process that doesn t always end. Liesl Schillinger, "The New York Times Book Review" You know that moment when the ingenue in the horror movie heads downstairs to check the radiator, and you re screaming, dumbfounded, at the screen? That s the sort of protective rage you feel for Daley Amory, the narrator of Lily King s novel "Father of the Rain." . . . Haunting, incisive . . . King is brilliant when writing from the eyes of a tween, all self-conscious curiosity but bright and hopeful as a starry sky. And as Daley grows up and learns how to trust and to love in spite of herself, King cuts a fine, fluid line to the melancholy truth: Even when we re grown and on our ownwives, mothers, CEOswe still long to be someone s daughter. The dream of an absent ideal father is like a thick, soft blanket; find one to burrow under, and enjoy. "Elle" [An] excellent novel . . . Sensitive and perceptive . . . King gives us the messy complexities of family without tidying them up or providing neat morals. . . . The moving final pages depict a reconciliation all the more realistic because no one dramatically repents or forgives; they simply acknowledge bonds that can t be broken. . . . ["Father of the Rain"] may be King s best yet. " Chicago Tribune " Lily King s breakout third novel, "Father of the Rain," harrowingly evokes a daughter s fierce devotion to her magnetic WASP father, whose flair for cocktail-fueled self-destruction rivals anything out of Cheever. "Vogue" Searing . . . "Father of the Rain" excavates the powerful forces of love and dysfunction with staggering aplomb. . . . King pulls no punches in her treatment of Gardiner s alcoholism. . . . The principal feat of this powerful, moving novel is how deeply we understand and feel compassion for Daley, and, amazingly, for Gardiner too; instead of condemning him, we enter into their dynamic on its own distorted terms. This novel is as unflinching as it is beautifully true. You won t soon forget it. "Cleveland Plain Dealer " A beautiful, ruthless novel . . . What is particularly fine about "Father of the Rain "is King s unflinching description of Daley s emotional universe. The devastation in a child s psyche caused by an alcoholic or drug-addicted parent has never been so well described, so far as I know. The 1970s were the years that kicking over the traces, discarding the supposed repression of centuries, became common. King shows us in precise and inescapable terms just what havoc that freedom wrought for the most sensitive. . . . Lily King s Daley triumphs, but she is also Lily King s triumph. "The Globe and Mail" Lily King writes with huge compassion about this shattered family and the girl growing up in the wreckage. . . . "Father of the Rain" is a relentless examination of a damaged man and his traumatized, but still loving, daughter. Its strength lies in the particularity of its detail. King creates a fleshed-out world in which, over and over, Gardiner feeds his dogs, opens bottles of vodka and stirs his drinks with his finger. All that happened is here, along with all the feelings. "Vancouver Sun" John Cheever and Barbara Kingsolver . . . come to mind when reading "Father of the Rain." . . . King shows once again her feel for the emotional undercurrents that control our most important relationships. "The Seattle Times" Lily King s "Father of the Rain" is one of the most richly satisfying and haunting novels I've read in a long time. Richard Russo King captures with easy strokes the bold and dangerous personalities lurking inside the . . . frame of domestic drama. . . . Original and deftly drawn, the work of a master psychological portraitist. "Publishers Weekly" A riveting portrait of a father so spectacularly dysfunctional that he rivals Alfred Lambert, in Jonathan Franzen s "The Corrections." . . . Readers will be thoroughly taken by King s exceptionally fluid prose and razor-sharp depiction of the East Coast country-club set. Joanne Wilkinson, "Booklist" [A] powerful family study . . . Daley is so beautifully portrayed that readers will clench their fists and protectively rail against her actions, only to be taken breathtakingly by surprise when her complicated, determined strength to do the right thing for both her father and herself replaces her losses with a wondrous resolution. Highly recommended. "Library Journal" (starred review) Lily King s "Father of the Rain" is the most unsettling and exhilarating kind of love storythe sort that interrogates just how resilient the bonds of unconditional love can remain, even after a lifetime of damage at the hands of a heedless parent. This is a passionate and beautifully observed and fair-minded novel Jim Shepard, author of "Like You d Understand, Anyway" In "Father of The Rain "Lily King creates a brilliant portrait of a man who lives in the everyday world but follows almost none of the everyday rules. The result for his family is excruciating and for the reader a wonderfully intense and absorbing novel that reminds us of just how complicated love can be. Margot Livesey, author of "The House on Fortune Street" One of King s extraordinary feats in "Father of the Rain "is her capacity to travel unflinchingly into the darkest recesses of family bonds, but do it with such unerring specificity that the effect is both comic and utterly heartbreaking. Like "The Glass Castle," by Jeannette Walls, this book beautifully depicts the emotional tightrope a child must walk with a charismatic, intelligent, and emotionally crippled parent. King also has a suspense writer's gift to make the ways her characters love and betray each other a complete, up-late-into-the-night page-turner with an ending that simply took my breath away. Cammie McGovern, author of "Eye Contact" and "Neighborhood Watch" We think back through our mothers if we are women, wrote Virginia Woolf, but Lily King's powerful novel about a daughter's odyssey to find her way through the tangle of her father's heart and so find herself, claims new terrain. In King's masterful hands, Daley Amory's quest for her drunk, charming, impossible father is heart-breaking and familiar in the oldest sense of the term. I wanted to shut my eyes, and couldn't because I couldn't stop reading. When I finished, I cried for us all. Sarah Blake, author of "The Postmistress" A moving, impeccably written drama . . . Packed with phenomenal depth. . . . Fresh with resonant details . . . Beautifully structured . . . King is skilled at zeroing in on the nitty-gritty dynamics of this intense father-daughter relationship . . . [and displays] her ability to capture with visceral complexity a primal yearning to be treated with care. The Barnes and Noble Review King doesn t flinch away from telling family secretsthe embarrassing and hurtful moments, the points of danger and ridiculousness. . . . Anyone with complicated family relationships can understand feeling disgust and longing, and King writes it all so clearlyhow the little things mean so much and cad add up to so much time lost. "City Paper" (Baltimore)" --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.See all Product Description
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Its a story, told over some 40 odd years, of a small town family, mostly centered around one woman and her father. It is told through the eyes, and mind of Daley, who was born into a typical uptight, New England family in the 60's, where alcoholism, racism, sexism, and just about any other "ism" you could think of was rampant. We follow Daley from a small child, and her impressions of her life, through teen years, college and post college, into her late 20s, and then into her 40s. The early part of the book sets the stage for the family's issues and Daley's early influences. The bulk of the latter part of the book is centered around the very complex relationship Daley has with her father.
We learn of her father, her mother, their dysfunctional relationship, her father's later wives, the small town gossip, Daley's artificial beliefs, her real beliefs, all told through her growing ideological point of view, and finally, through her maturing point of view.
I cannot describe the absolute natural cadence, language and moods that Lily King has created, as the words on the page almost became real life narrative, like a movie playing in my head where I was watching real life unfold. The stitching together of time, of descriptions, of details small and large, is just mesmerizing. I simply could not put down this book.
Simply put, I was blown away, and could not stop reading. It took me 5 days, much of it on a business trip. I didn't hear the airplanes, hotel rooms, or anything else when I was reading. I was totally sucked in. I grew up during the same time period, and have some roots into the New England setting, so some of it resonated with family history. Her writing is on the scale of Richard Russo, and the richness that Ms. King deliver is simply uncanny and wonderful. Buy this book. Read this book.
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.
With a fine eye for imagery, an unerring ear for dialogue, and a firm grasp of the depths of emotion that underlie the interplay between Daley and Gardiner, she creates a novel that establishes her themes about daughters and their fathers, a surprisingly rare subject for fiction. The novel opens on Daley's eleventh birthday, just before her mother leaves her father and persuades Daley to come with her to her parents' house in New Hampshire for the summer. Three months later, after a summer in New Hampshire, Daley returns to her former home to visit her father-and finds him living with someone else, the woman's daughter sleeping in Daley's bedroom.
Part II takes place during a going-away party for Daley in Michigan sixteen years later. Having completed her advanced degree, she is about to begin work in California. Then she gets a call saying that her father needs her. In Part III, Daley is the mother of two children. She has had no contact with her father for fifteen years. And then she gets another phone call asking her to return to see him.
Gardiner Amory is nearly impossible to like, primarily because he is so ignorant and self-satisfied. He has no interests beyond the elite little world of his town and his club. Snide and snobbish, he is a manipulator, willing to do anything to get his own way. His profanity, his alcoholic tantrums, his insulting behavior toward his succession of wives, and his flagrant sexual performances are more than many readers will want to know about. It is this last issue which, unfortunately, casts a clinker into the mix of scenes--several sexual episodes so (unnecessarily) explicit that they will, for some readers, negatively affect the thoughtfully observed mood and style of the novel overall.
Daley is sympathetic and largely believable. Though her decision to nurse her weak father emphasizes her overwhelming need for him, the length of her stay is more difficult to understand. The fact that her devotion is taken for granted, rather than appreciated, makes her stay especially hard to credit. A fascinating look at the extent to which girls and women yearn for a father and the lengths to which they will go to make that father love them, Father of the Rain is a thoughtful novel which shows the evolution of a woman who must help her father, with his limited view of life, even as her own world view is expanding. Mary Whipple
This book gripped me like a vise from the first pages and never let me go. The story centers on Daley Amory, daughter of an alcoholic father, whose addiction finally breaks apart their family when she is in 6th grade. I really cannot find any fault with this book. It is not an easy or uplifting book as it takes an unflinching look at issues of family, divorce, addiction and bigotry. King never allows the novel to become sentimental or righteous and she excels at the broad themes mentioned above, but also the details. The dialogue is so flawless and the sense of time and place, covering 30 years, primarily in New England, is perfect.
"Father of the Rain" is about first and foremost about relationships. The center of gravity for this book is the relationship between Daley and her alcoholic father, Gardiner. This relationship, like most family relationships, has so much collateral impact which King's weaves together to create such a multi-dimensional and haunting novel that spans the emotional spectrum of love, loss, guilt and forgiveness. As a child of inamicable divorce (although not driven by addiction), King had me flashing back to my childhood, recalling many similar circumstances and feelings, opening old wounds in a raw and visceral way. It is possible this book connected with me so deeply because of the subject matter and my life experiences. It is more likely that this is just a brilliant book by a brilliant writer.
If you are going to read just a couple of books this year, make sure "Father of the Rain" is one of them. I certainly hope this book receives the recognition it deserves and cements King's reputation as a writer of great skill.