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A Family Daughter: A Novel Hardcover – February 7, 2006
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This family is the most chaotic bunch of narcissists to come along in some time. Yvette and Teddy, matriarch and patriarch, are devout Catholics on whom some of their childrens' antics are, fortunately, lost. Jamie is another centerpiece of the novel: funny, charming, libidinous slacker that he is, he is temporarily irresistible to everyone. Abby hits a bad patch in college after the death of her father and Jamie is there to console, and sleep with her. The impact of this event (eight events, really) results in a book, maybe fiction, maybe true, that eventually has the whole family on its respective and collective ear.
Abby's Aunt Margot, exemplary wife and mother, on automatic pilot for thirty years, suddenly leaves home to find a former lover. Clarissa might be a lesbian, she isn't sure. Abby, now happily ensconced with her former T.A., Peter, is lured to Argentina by Jamie to help care for his libertine fiancee's mother's adopted child. And, that's just a peek at what's going on. Convoluted? Yes, but it all works. Meloy can write the socks off most authors. She maintains an ironic distance from her characters in prose that you absolutely cannot stop reading until you find out every last detail. The whole shebang culminates in a Christmas celebration with everyone present. Not your ordinary singing-around-the-piano event. May the Santerres continue to thrive in Meloy's imagination! --Valerie Ryan
From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
After the divorce, Abby lives in a joint custody arrangement --- a month with her warm but strict lawyer father alternating with a month with her free-spirit mother and her mother's multitude of boyfriends. Abby grows up and decides to go to college at the University of San Diego, maybe partially because that's where her parents met, were happy together, and conceived her.
Tragedy strikes the family and Abby falls apart. She leaves school, cannot eat, and refuses to be consoled. She takes off on her own, and is far too alone until Uncle Jamie comes to help her, once again rescuing her from a dreary stretch. In the midst of a startling new twist in their relationship, Jamie learns a potentially devastating (if true) family secret, which he's afraid to confirm. Meanwhile, Abby becomes fascinated by what lies beneath the surface of family connections. She begins a novel based on her own family, embellished with her imagination.
Jamie becomes besotted with and then engaged to odd, beautiful, chronically unfaithful Saffron. Saffron asks him to come with her to Argentina to help with a family disaster of her own: her mother, Josephine, who has recently adopted a baby, now has been stricken with dementia. Jamie and Saffron request Abby's company on the trip to translate for the child who speaks only Spanish. In Argentina, settled into the gothic atmosphere of Josephine's mansion, their situations change rapidly.Read more ›
Family Daughter realizes the potential that Meloy first displayed in Liars and Saints, a book that left me reeling, sort of like flipping through a photo album on warp speed. (In the space of a few pages, Clarissa is pregnant with Abby, Abby is born, grows up, and dies.) The characters blurred together in the finest soap opera fashion, and getting to the end of the book felt like winning a race: I'd covered a lot of ground but if there were roses to stop and smell, I hadn't glimpsed them.
So I appreciated Meloy's willingness to reintroduce us to Abby and to give us a chance to get to know this complicated, often confused, but ultimately insightful protagonist. Not only that, Meloy relaxes enough to have fun, introducing eccentric charmers such as the deliciously-named Saffron and devilish Uncle Freddie.
Having skimmed the other reviews, I can't sign off without addressing the negative comments I saw.
First, you want serious literature? Please, help yourself, put this book down and dust off the Tolstoy or Proust. Daughter was not written to be the foundation of your Ph.D. dissertation.
Next, the whines about the lack of congruency between Liars and Daughter. From my perspective, one of the coolest aspects of Daughter is that whole parallel universe thing. After Abby publishes her family novel, the reader is left wondering whether Abby's novel was actually Liars and Saints--there are hints that many of the key elements of Liars, notably the "who's your mama" mystery/scandal, were concocted by the family daughter.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you liked Liars and Saints from Maile Meloy or even "Both Ways is the Only Way.." then you are going to like this book A Family Daughter which is a derivative book of... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Joseph Landes
I purchased this novel after having read and much enjoyed a collection of her short stories, and the novel Liars and Saints. Read morePublished on September 21, 2012 by swampknot
I love this author, but the only trouble is that she creates such wonderful (and often depressed) characters that when I finish her books, or even put them down for a day or two, I... Read morePublished on March 13, 2012 by Christina Hager
A sign of a good book: You start out warming to the book, but you grow to love the book more and more and more as you go along. That's the case for me with this book. Read morePublished on December 10, 2011 by Debnance at Readerbuzz
This book was a decent book. It got to the point and went through things quick. Then about half way through things started slowing down and I couldn't help but wonder where the... Read morePublished on November 4, 2011 by J. Paschal
Get with it, people. Look past, beneath, and above the actual skin of these characters, and maybe then you'll realize the gem of a novel that has been placed into your palms. Read morePublished on July 20, 2011 by Montana86
It's best to read Meloy's earlier novel, "Liars and Saints" before reading "A Family Daughter" since the characters are the same in both, but their lives are played out... Read morePublished on April 19, 2010 by Charlotte Pen
I have read none of the author's previous work. I can find no redemptive value in this book; the characters are not developed, the dialogue feels ridiculous, and situations which... Read morePublished on March 7, 2010 by Galia
Too cheesy, risque in odd and uncomfortable ways, and tried too hard to be unexpected. Yawn and meh.Published on February 26, 2010 by quirky book lover