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What Is Left the Daughter [Kindle Edition]

Howard Norman
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Howard Norman, widely regarded as one of this country’s finest novelists, returns to the mesmerizing fictional terrain of his major books—The Bird Artist, The Museum Guard, and The Haunting of L—in this erotically charged and morally complex story.

Seventeen-year-old Wyatt Hillyer is suddenly orphaned when his parents, within hours of each other, jump off two different bridges—the result of their separate involvements with the same compelling neighbor, a Halifax switchboard operator and aspiring actress. The suicides cause Wyatt to move to small-town Middle Economy to live with his uncle, aunt, and ravishing cousin Tilda.

Setting in motion the novel’s chain of life-altering passions and the wartime perfidy at its core is the arrival of the German student Hans Mohring, carrying only a satchel. Actual historical incidents—including a German U-boat’s sinking of the Nova Scotia–Newfoundland ferry Caribou, on which Aunt Constance Hillyer might or might not be traveling—lend intense narrative power to Norman’s uncannily layered story.

Wyatt’s account of the astonishing—not least to him— events leading up to his fathering of a beloved daughter spills out twenty-one years later. It’s a confession that speaks profoundly of the mysteries of human character in wartime and is directed, with both despair and hope, to an audience of one.

An utterly stirring novel. This is Howard Norman at his celebrated best.


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, July 2010: On a stormy Nova Scotia night in 1967, the loner Wyatt Hillyer has come to terms with his life's choices and self-imposed separation from his daughter Marlais. Realizing that one of the most important gifts a parent can give a child is an honest picture of himself, Wyatt has decided to write his memoirs in the form of a letter on the occasion of Marlais' twenty-first birthday. With great clarity and economy he slowly discloses the events of his parents’ scandalous deaths in 1941, his teenage years living with his aunt and uncle, the joys of fatherhood, and what led to his abandoning his only daughter and her mother. Returning to Canada's Maritime provinces in his latest novel, What Is Left the Daughter, acclaimed author Howard Norman has created an unpredictable and absorbing story of an imperfect and tragic life at a turning point. This short and potent novel will leave readers replaying events and reconsidering Wyatt and the other unique characters long after reading the final pages. --Lauren Nemroff


Product Description
Howard Norman, widely regarded as one of this country's finest novelists, returns to the mesmerizing fictional terrain of his major books--The Bird Artist, The Museum Guard, and The Haunting of L--in this erotically charged and morally complex story.

Seventeen-year-old Wyatt Hillyer is suddenly orphaned when his parents, within hours of each other, jump off two different bridges--the result of their separate involvements with the same compelling neighbor, a Halifax switchboard operator and aspiring actress. The suicides cause Wyatt to move to small-town Middle Economy to live with his uncle, aunt, and ravishing cousin Tilda.

Setting in motion the novel's chain of life-altering passions and the wartime perfidy at its core is the arrival of the German student Hans Mohring, carrying only a satchel. Actual historical incidents--including a German U-boat's sinking of the Nova Scotia-Newfoundland ferry Caribou, on which Aunt Constance Hillyer might or might not be traveling--lend intense narrative power to Norman's uncannily layered story.

Wyatt's account of the astonishing--not least to him--events leading up to his fathering of a beloved daughter spills out twenty-one years later. It's a confession that speaks profoundly of the mysteries of human character in wartime and is directed, with both despair and hope, to an audience of one.

An utterly stirring novel. This is Howard Norman at his celebrated best.




<br/ Amazon Exclusive: Howard Frank Mosher Reviews What Is Left the Daughter

Howard Frank Mosher is the author of 10 novels, his most recent book is Walking to Gatlinburg. Mosher's novel A Stranger in the Kingdom won the New England Book Award for Fiction and was made into a movie, as were his novels Disappearances and Where the Rivers Flow North. Read his guest review of What Is Left the Daughter:

As my sainted grandmother used to say, with a hard look right straight at 12-year-old, misbehaving me, let's not mince words here. Okay, let's not: Howard Norman's new novel, What Is Left the Daughter, is the best story of love in the time of war I've ever read. And yes, that includes Cold Mountain and A Farewell To Arms.

It's the early 1940s in Halifax, Nova Scotia. World War II, in all its fury, has come to Canada, as the dreaded German U-boats are sinking ferries and passenger ships just off the coast. In the meantime, 17-year-old Wyatt Hillyer's parents, caught up in a love triangle in which they've both fallen for a local switchboard operator and aspiring actress, have without warning leapt to their deaths "from separate bridges in Halifax on the same evening." Bereft and adrift, Wyatt soon moves to the tiny Bay of Fundy outport of Middle Economy, to work in his uncle's sled and toboggan shop.

It will come as no surprise to Norman's readers to learn that, like Gabriel Garcia Marquez's jungle-village of Macondo, Middle Economy is a universe unto itself. What's more, its residents are every bit as strange and wondrous. For starters, there's kindly, plain-spoken Cornelia Tell, a one-woman Greek chorus of information and assessments. The town's aspiring stenographer, Lenore Teachout, takes down every conversation she overhears, and even transcribes the most awful war news over the radio. The casualty reports so distress Wyatt's eccentric uncle that he's papered the side of his toboggan shop with newspaper accounts of ships sunk by U-boats. Wyatt's beautiful, adopted cousin, Tilda, is obsessed by obituaries. Her dream in life is to become a "professional mourner" at the funerals of people who die without family or friends.

When Hans Mohring, a likable young refugee from Hitler's Germany, visits Middle Economy and falls in love with Tilda, all hell breaks loose in the village, including the bloodiest and most shocking murder in recent fiction, the strangest (and, in places, funniest) courtroom sequence I've ever read, and the unspeakably sorrowful, total dissolution of the Hillyer family.

Or does Wyatt's beloved family come totally unraveled in the onslaught of the war and its madness? Suffice it to say that What Is Left the Daughter, which is structured as a long letter from Wyatt, written in 1967 to his 21-year-old daughter, just may hold out the prospect of a transcendent love so powerful and enduring that it affirms the value and meaning of our lives even in the worst of times and despite all of our tragic flaws.

What Is Left the Daughter affirms what many of Howard Norman's readers have known since he published his magical first novel, The Northern Lights. Norman is most certainly one of America's three or four best novelists, with a uniquely wise and tolerant vision of his characters and all human beings everywhere. So let's not mince words. What Is Left the Daughter is a literary masterpiece that will, I guarantee it, live on in your heart, and mine, forever.




From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Set on the Atlantic coast of Canada during WWII, Norman's latest (after Devotion) is an expertly crafted tale of love during wartime. Wyatt Hillyer loses both his parents on the same day when they jump from different bridges in Halifax, Nova Scotia, after they discover they are both having affairs with the woman next door. Wyatt's aunt and uncle take him in, and Wyatt becomes his uncle's apprentice in his sled and toboggan business and, despite the circumstances, soon falls in love with his adopted cousin, Tilda. Yet he must resign himself to loving from a distance when Tilda brings home Hans Moehring, a German university student. The two begin a courtship harshly complicated by reports of U-boat attacks on Canadian ships, and Tilda's father becoming increasingly uneasy about this potential enemy in their midst. Norman's writing is effortless, and his plot is grand in scope but studded with moments of tenderness and intimacy that help crystallize the anxiety and weariness of life on the home front. That Norman is able to achieve so much in 250 pages is a testament to his mastery of the craft. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1620 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307400948
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Reprint edition (July 6, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003U4VES0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #147,902 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Legacy of Loss March 27, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This tenderly-written novel builds meticulously to a central climax and then leads away from it in a long dying fall. It is a sad book, shaded with evanescent emotions that are remarkably hard to pin down. But while I suspect it will resonate strongly with Howard Norman's fans, it did little to alter my previous opinion of his work, which was somewhere between admiration and annoyance.

The new book has many elements in common with the only other Norman novel that I have read, THE MUSEUM GUARD. Foremost, a beautifully evocative portrayal of life in Nova Scotia; Halifax in both books, but here also a small fishing community on the Bay of Fundy. Beyond that, the unstoppable encroachment of WW2, an important uncle/nephew relationship, an enigmatic love-object who goes her own way, the magnetic pull of distant Europe, and a curious fascination with menial jobs and long-stay city hotels. Both books also combine a fine-grained reality of detail with a certain fantasy of plot that some people will call poetic but merely perplexes me. If at times THE MUSEUM GUARD read almost as a fable, I accepted this as a fresh approach to writing about the Holocaust. Here, with less potent forces in play, the fabulous element is less strong, but I still felt torn between surrender to its pervasive melancholy and resistance against its implausibilities.

The narrator, Wyatt Hillyer, is orphaned at 19 by the simultaneous but separate suicides of his father and mother, both of whom were in love with the same woman. Very little is made of this sensational start, but it results in Wyatt moving down the coast as an apprentice to his uncle, a craftsman who builds toboggans.
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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love and death in Nova Scotia March 10, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have read 3 previous books by Mr. Norman ("The Bird Artist", "The Museum Guard" and "The Haunting of L.") and enjoyed them all very much. I therefore came to this book with high expectations, and they were not disappointed.

Mr. Norman has a way with his stories of telling them in a calm and sure voice that reassures the reader while at the same time advancing the plot effortlessly. This plot involves a protagonist whose parents both commit suicide on the same day, by jumping from different bridges. He's then taken in by an Aunt and Uncle who have a daughter about his age. The uncle has a sled and toboggan making business, and our young man joins him in this.

It is 1941 and, in Nova Scotia, the threat of ship sinking by German subs is never very far from everyone's thoughts.In fact, the uncle has become obsessed with it, and papers the wall of his workshop with newspaper clippins and pictures about subs and sinkings.

The plot really takes off when the daughter brings home a young German student whose family fled to Denmark to escape the Nazis. Despite this, he is looked upon as a potential enemy by almost everyone in the small town where the action takes place. His arrival sets off a chain of events that is both tragic and heartfelt. To say more would be to ruin the book for potential readers.

All that I can say is that, if you enjoy a small story with believeable characters that is told in an excellent way, you will definitely find this book to your liking. It is highly recommended!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
WHAT IS LEFT THE DAUGHTER by Howard Norman is a literature novel by writer Howard Norman. I usually stick more to suspense thrillers, but picked this novel up through the Amazon Vine program because it sounded interesting.

Wyatt is seventeen years old when both of his parents commit suicide on the same evening because they were in love with the same woman. Wyatt goes to live with his aunt and uncle and cousin by adoption, Tilda. Wyatt immediately falls for Tilda, but complications arise when the dashing Hans Lohring enters the picture.

The novel is a straight character drama, filled with love, tragedy, loss and hope. Norman takes the novel to a level above most with the setting and characters. The novel is set in Canada , just as World War II is beginning and German U-boats are terrorizing the innocent. Hans is a German student studying in Canada , so he is faced with much hatred. Wyatt's aunt and uncle have there own problems in dealing with the war.

Even though I rarely read books like this, I really enjoyed this novel, which is an letter from Wyatt to his daughter explaining the twists and turns that his life took over the years in hope that he can be close to her once again.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual read, but a worthy one. April 6, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
34.[ What is Left the Daughter] by Howard Norman

I have to admit that at first I had a difficult time with what seemed to me to be short clipped sentences in the dialogue. I have never heard anyone speak like that for an extended period. Once I was able to get past that, I was drawn deeply into this story of a star crossed family in Nova Scotia during WWII.

We immediately learn that Wyatt Hillyer is suddenly orphaned when both of his parents leap from different bridges on the same day. Thus begins the story of Wyatt's life.

The story is in the form of a letter being written from Wyatt to Marlais that is both the history of his life, and perhaps a plea for understanding and forgiveness.
The characters are all so compelling,quirky and frankly unusual that I could not help but be drawn in.

Things take an understandably tense turn when Wyatt's cousin Tilda becomes involved with a German. Hans Mohring is a student, his family does not support Hitler, and in fact moved to Denmark to escape his reign of terror. Hans is not embraced by Tilda's family, nor accepted by most in the small town where they live.

The pace of this book is somewhat slow, but it seems to fit Wyatt's quiet and painfully honest narrative .

Bottom line is this is a book worth reading, a story worth hearing and in fact, I suspect that you will be unwilling to put it down once you begin. I know I was.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars interesting Storyline
I enjoyed the voices and story-telling - the author captured the time and place wonderfully. I loved the ending - it was perfect and true.
Published 1 month ago by L. A. Lucas
3.0 out of 5 stars Ended with out the conclusion.
Just when the daughter was going to meet the ..... (can't tell the ending)... it ends. Yeah... I know, I can use my own imagination but that is why I am reading a book; the author... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars What is left the Daughter
Captivating, suspense, well written, would recommend to family and friends to read. Good, enjoyable, and Captivating. Suspense, deceptive, mind opening.
Published 2 months ago by Franchise Franchise
4.0 out of 5 stars i looove this author, but...
this is not one of his better works. i prefer his older novels without chapters that go back&forth in time. still, it is a wonderful read
Published 2 months ago by nyfrog
2.0 out of 5 stars The Book
I didn't really care for it too much. Too many characters. I guess I just read better books, that kept my interest.
Published 5 months ago by Sandra Kalmerton
5.0 out of 5 stars What is Left the Daughter
Howard Norman doesn't disappoint with this novel. I found this story so compelling that I read it in one evening. Read more
Published 10 months ago by happy gardener
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure poetry from a master storyteller
opens up the "soul" of Nova Scotia earth, water, and people
a subtle yet powerful anti-war work
this is a true gem
Published 11 months ago by Byrd Gibbens
3.0 out of 5 stars sad
This book is very well written but the story was sad.... Wyatt is a quiet young man who has learned that his parents both commit suicide hours apart. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Courtney Ann
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting reading.
I don't like to read the same old formulaic book. Thank you.It's good to have a new viewpoint, a new take on things. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, very entertaining novel
This novel has offbeat characters and an unusual plot revolving around Canadian anti-German sentiment and how it affected one family with tragic consequences. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Noseeums
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More About the Author

HOWARD NORMAN is a three-time winner of National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and a winner of the Lannan Award for fiction. His 1987 novel, The Northern Lights, was nominated for a National Book Award, as was his 1994 novel The Bird Artist. He is also author of the novels The Museum Guard, The Haunting of L, and Devotion. His books have been translated into twelve languages. Norman teaches in the MFA program at the University of Maryland. He lives in Washington, D.C., and Vermont with his wife and daughter.

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