A New York Times Editors’ Choice—“a gripping epic about a father and daughter that plumbs the dark side of a family riven by addiction and mental illness” (Entertainment Weekly).
Gardiner Amory’s life is reeling—Nixon is being impeached, his wife is leaving him, and his worldview is rapidly becoming outdated. His daughter, Daley, has spent the first eleven years of her life negotiating her parents’ conflicting worlds: the liberal, socially committed realm of her mother and the conservative, liquor-soaked life of her father. But when the pair divorces, Gardiner’s basest impulses are unleashed in a deluge, the chasm between all of them widens, and Daley is stretched thinly across it.
As she reaches adulthood, Daley rejects the narrow world of her father’s prejudices and embarks on her own life—until Gardiner hits rock bottom. Returning home to help her father get sober, Daley risks everything she’s found beyond him, including a chance at love, in an attempt to repair a trust that was broken long ago . . .
In this Winner of the New England Book Award for Fiction, Lily King pulls readers into “a brilliant exploration of the attraction of martyrdom, the intoxication of playing savior. . . . An absorbing, insightful story written in cool, polished prose right to the last conflicted line” (Washington Post).
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.
Especially loved the last ten or so pages. I wish this country could feel that elation again. Excellent book overall.