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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Father of the Rain by Lily King, 2009, * * * *

You know you are in for some heavy weather when a novel takes its title from the Book of Job "Hath the rain a father?"  Lily King's third novel, Father of the Rain, is a moving drama about a daughter's attachment to a destructive, but often disarmingly charming father and about how that bond is pelted by the storms of divorce and alcoholism.  Father of the Rain covers 34 years in the life of Daley Amory, bookended by the summer of Richard Nixon's resignation and President Obama's election in 2008.  The political markers are significant, spanning an age of cynical disenchantment with the Establishment to an augury of unexpected hope.  The novel is set in an affluent East Coast seaside town, where Gardiner Amory has a life that revolves around dogs, tennis, martinis, a swimming pool, and step families. A Harvard-educated broker, he is a racist, anti-Semite, and sexist.  King is skilled at zeroing in on the nitty-gritty dynamics of the intense father-daughter relationship, but it is her sympathetic ancillary characters and two strategic jumps in her narrative that add texture and save it from claustrophobia.

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