Beloved storyteller Belva Plain understands the rich tapestry of the human heart like no other. Her many dazzling New York Times bestsellers probe the shifting bonds of marriage and family with insight, compassion, and uncommon grace. And her new novel is no exception. A tale of fathers and daughters, lovers and families, acts of love and acts of betrayal, Her Father’s House is Belva Plain’s most powerful and unforgettable novel yet.
It is the spring of 1968 when Donald Wolfe, a young graduate of a midwestern law school, arrives in New York. Filled with ambition and idealism, he is dazzled not only by the big city but by the vivacious, restless Lillian, whom he marries in the heat of infatuation.
Surely theirs is no marriage made in heaven, but they have a child, Tina, and she is the love of Donald’s heart. For her he would give up everything--his home, his distinguished career, and his freedom. When his flawed marriage begins to fail, a choice must be made. Shall he consider a step that would force him into flight and a life of hiding?
From her earliest years, Tina is exceptional, a brilliant student and a joyous, loving spirit. At the university she falls in love with Gilbert, who graduates from law school just as she is about to enter medical school. Together they go to New York, where she learns the truth about her family’s past, a truth that must change her regard for the father who has protected and cherished her. When a terrible lie has been told out of love, can it be forgiven?
With courage and compassion, Belva Plain paints a moving portrait of the choices that shape the course of our lives, the secrets that haunt us, and the love that helps us heal and move on. It is a work of riveting storytelling and rare emotional power by one of the most gifted novelists of our time.
Usually a crowd-pleaser, Plain (Looking Back, etc.) sleepwalks through her latest novel, in which old-fashioned style clashes uncomfortably with contemporary content. Donald Wolfe, a 25-year-old North Dakota native, comes to New York City in 1968 to practice law; five years later, he meets and falls for the captivating Lillian Morris. Marrying in haste, he repents big time when Lillian reveals herself to be disturbingly erratic. After she becomes pregnant, the two divorce, but when Donald judges his daughter, Bettina, to be neglected, he kidnaps her. Taking to the road, he invents a new past for himself and adopts the name Jim, renaming his daughter Laura. Many years later, the truth is revealed and Jim stands trial for kidnapping. Will Laura, now a young woman, be able to forgive her father his deception, which he claims was for her own good? An unbelievably na ve attitude on the part of young Donald and creakingly stilted dialogue all around make it difficult to suspend disbelief; meanwhile, the dated language will have readers expecting descriptions of porkpie hats. Preachy double standards regarding parenting will be unappreciated by modern readers, and there are a few glaring anachronisms (music CDs in the '70s?). When Donald/Jim, sanctimonious from start to finish, asserts late in the novel that "Running away is never the answer," readers will rightly wonder whether this man has been paying attention to his own life story. More importantly, has the author? A pass, even for completists. National advertising.