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Father of the Rain: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, July 6, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 122 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, July 2010: 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

From Publishers Weekly

Whiting Award–winner King (The English Teacher) captures with easy strokes the bold and dangerous personalities lurking inside the mundane frame of domestic drama. Her third novel, narrated by the clear-eyed daughter of an alcoholic father, follows their evolving relationship. The opening scene-- with 11-year-old Daley and her father wreaking delirious havoc by streaking naked at a martini-fueled pool party in the sleepy Boston suburbs-- brims with Daley's love for her father and desire for connection with him, but is also tinged with the repercussions of a charismatic man divorced from the role of parenthood, unlike Daley's socially responsible mother. Daley watches her father's continued degradation, but after years of self-imposed cultural and emotional distance from him--she flourishes at Berkeley and builds a loving, stable relationship with an African-American man she knows her Waspish father will despise--she eventually returns to her father's side after he is no longer capable of living alone. While Daley's perfect romance with her strapping, intelligent suitor is simplistic though sensual, King's latest is original and deftly drawn, the work of a master psychological portraitist.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; 1 edition (July 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802119492
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802119490
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #746,592 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Nanohead VINE VOICE on June 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book was just spellbinding. I had no idea what to expect, and took a total flyer on it, and I was astonished. I'm a middle age family guy, and I usually trend toward action/mystery/thrillers, with an occasional drift into historical fiction and general literature. I figured I'd try something a little different, and Father of the Rain looked interesting. It would just not be on my radar in most cases.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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.
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Format: Hardcover
John Updike made the lives of Boston's suburban elite his territory--emphasizing their sense of entitlement and superiority, their "clubbiness," their alcoholism, and their sexual experimentation. One generation later, Lily King shares her similar insights within a similar, more "Brahmin" Massachusetts setting. Dividing her novel into three parts, she tells the story of Daley Amory, daughter of Gardiner and Meredith Amory, from her eleventh birthday, during the Presidency of Richard Nixon, through her forties and the election of Barack Obama. Though she lives for long periods of time during those years without contact with her alcoholic father, she never really escapes her need for him, even, on occasion, subsuming her own "best interests" to care for him.

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.
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