"Elegant prose ... sheds new light on the father-daughter dynamic"
Praise for Fatherless WOMEN
"If it can be said about a book on loss, Fatherless Women is a pleasure to read. Clea Simon is a warm, honest, intelligent, and trustworthy guide, not only for grieving women but for the men who support them. Simon's insights about father-daughter relationships are profound."
-Neil Chethik, author of FatherLoss
"Clea Simon deepens our understanding of the complicated emotions daughters feel about fathers, both during life and especially after death. This book will help heal rifts and set stuck energies free."
-Beth Witrogen McLeod, author of Caregiving:
The Spiritual Journey of Love, Loss, and Renewal
"Unusually candid and often provocative . . . Simon's book is immensely thought-provoking about a topic that all of us will face."
-Pauline Boss, Ph.D., author of Ambiguous Loss:
Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief
There is a special bond between a father and a daughter, and when that bond is broken by death, a woman's life can change in profound and unexpected ways. Clea Simon, critically acclaimed author of Mad House, explores this crucial meeting point of grief and growth by delving into her own experience and those of other women to paint an illuminating portrait of the father-daughter relationship and its lifelong ramifications. Filled with moving stories of real women, this poignant, comforting, and insightful book paves the way for all women to make peace with the past, with the adults they have become, and to courageously face the question: what happens next?
When fathers die, says Simon (Mad House), a Boston Globe journalist, their daughters may experience crucial changes in their lives. Some will feel freed of their father's expectations and strictures. Some will want to have a baby. Some will already have worked out their issues with their dads years earlier and will simply feel grief at the loss of a parent. Some will forge a whole new relationship with their mother, if she's still living. Everything is possible, and may depend on the daughter's sexuality and age, on whether the parents were divorced or unhappy with each other. Or none of these things may happen, or if they do, they may not depend on the aforementioned factors. Such rampant indeterminacy is meant to sound embracing and supportive; instead, it reads like equivocal psychobabble. Despite plenty of valid and judicious observations ("When we lose a parent, we move up a step in the generational hierarchy"), the narrative feels flat and unsubstantiated. Simon writes mostly based on her own experience of her father's death and has also talked to friends and read some popular psychology books on fathers and daughters and on death and grieving. Her friends' experiences are used to illustrate some of the ways paternal death affects daughters, while experts are invoked to give the book some clout.