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Father Melancholy's Daughter by Gail Godwin

Father Melancholy's Daughter

by Gail Godwin

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    Velva Jean Learns to Drive by Jennifer Niven (lahochstetler)
    lahochstetler: Two books about southern girls coming of age and facing parental abandonment

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Margaret is abandoned by her mother while she is a small child and grows up in a small Virginia town with her father, who is an Episcopal priest and who, even before her mother decamps, is given to bouts of deep depression. At the very beginning of adulthood, Margaret is asking herself what her life will become, puzzling over whether she has any destiny of her own or will continue to serve as a helpmeet to her beloved father.

This book delves deeply into the human spirit and into the sometimes surprising turns of fate that can set our feet on a course of action, or dramatically limit our options. As a character, Margaret is appealing but never predictable (which is a very good thing in a literary character). The novel is character driven, and its strength does not lie in the story but in the natural evolution of action by meticulously drawn characters. ( )
  turtlesleap | Feb 9, 2014 |
I loved this for its depiction of a family and a community. What I will re-read the book for though, are the portraits of Margaret and her father as two intelligent, complex and essentially good human beings trying to make sense of their lives. ( )
1 vote janglen | Jan 30, 2011 |
Abandoned by her mother at age six, Margaret Gower grows up with her loving, but frequently depressed father. An Anglican minister, Father Gower is the quintissential high-church Anglican, and a model of patience and compassion. Like Margaret he has been fundamentally changed by his wife's departure. Margaret is the model devoted daughter, but much responsibility falls on her young shoulders. And much of Margaret's mind is taken up with trying to figure out the enigma that was her mother. Though both Margaret and her father have been deeply wounded by her mother's absence, this is not a story of ruined lives or sadness. It is a beautiful story about a family and a community, and how they deal with loss. ( )
1 vote lahochstetler | Apr 6, 2010 |
Read it years ago but really liked it. ( )
  lizziemc | Oct 11, 2009 |
I read the sequel to this book, Evensong, two years ago. Even though I didn't find that book worth keeping (the first part was interesting, the second half was fairly predictable and dull), I was intrigued enough to make note of the first book's title. I was happy to finally come across Father Melancholy's Daughter at the Phoenix VNSA sale in February.

Margaret's life took a terrible twist at age six. Up until then, life had been happy - her father was rector of a small Virginian Episcopalian church, while her mother tended the house and played the rector's wife. Then, one day, her mother's dear friend from college arrived, and the next day the two left together on a supposed week-long get-away. Margaret's mother never returned. Margaret grew older, tending to her father throughout his moments of "The Black Veil" (aka depression) and wondering why her mother left, and trying to figure out how that made her who she is.

I found this book to be very uneven, though still intriguing. The first part dragged horribly, in part because I didn't know what the present-tense was. Margaret reminisced about her childhood, but from what vantage point? As a 12-year-old? A teen? It was also quite redundant with its stream-of-consciousness thought process. Once the narrative established that Margaret was well into college and it stopped the constant flashbacks, the story gained quick momentum and became enjoyable. I almost didn't make it through those first hundred pages, though. It's not a bad coming of age tale, but it's not a very mesmerizing one, either. This one won't be staying on my bookshelf. ( )
1 vote ladycato | May 16, 2009 |
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To my own Father Melancholy, the sorrowful but animating spirit who dwells within.
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Although I did not know it then, my life of unpremeditated childhood ended on Wednesday, September 13, 1972.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0380729865, Paperback)

The novels of Gail Godwin are contemporary classics--evocative, powerfully affecting, beautifully crafted fiction alive with endearing, unforgettable characters. Her critically acclaimed work has placed her among the ranks of Eudora Welty, Pat Conroy, and Carson McCullers, firmly establishing Godwin as a Southern literary novelist for the ages.

Father Melancholy's Daughter, is widely recognized as one of the author's most poignant and accomplished novels -- a bittersweet and ultimately transcendent story of a young girl's devotion to her father, the rector of a small Virginia church, and of the hope, dreams, and love that sustain them both in the wake of the betrayal and tragedy that diminished their family.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:59 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Abandoned by her mother at six, a young girl becomes used to putting her needs after her clergyman father.

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