On to Lily King’s Father of the Rain, which scored an average of 6 on a scale of 1 to 10. Apparently all of us West Coasters (plus La Mademoiselle) could not muster up a whole lot of sympathy for these Boston preppies and their high-class problems. There was at least one person in our group who found each of the characters annoying: Daley, the narrator, for being one-dimensional and weak; Jonathan, the black boyfriend, for being a cliché with his dreadlocks and for abandoning Daley on her dad’s porch; and, of course, Gardiner, Daley’s father, for his crass, drunken antics and home-wrecking behavior. But on the flip side, there also were compelling elements to the characters and to the story as a whole. For one thing, it had some interesting resonance with March's book, Love or Something Like It, since both novels involved the dramatic and lasting impact that a father can have on a daughter’s life—sometimes for the worse rather than the better. Also, there were some humorous and endearing aspects to Gardiner’s personality, for example, his inside jokes (or, at least, the only mildly raunchy ones) and the fatherly rituals that Daley and her brother loved when they were younger, or when he pulled outrageous gags such as streaking naked through his wife’s pool party in front of the "liberal" friends she was trying to impress. Thus some of us found ourselves really rooting for Gardiner as he tried to pull his life back together through AA. But at the end of the day, whatever poignant and convincing insights this book might have provided were drowned out in the dated corniness of the last scene: Gardiner, on his death bed, surrounded by his (now) bi-racial family as they discuss the 2008 Democratic primary run-off between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, with Daley throwing her vote behind Obama and Jonathan behind Clinton. Really? Really?
And just because it's such an incredibly great look... Preppies... then, and now.
Preppy on campus, circa 1980
Preppy with a sweet ride, circa 1980
Preppy tennis, circa 1980
And now... lish!
We decided to put a bit of space between heavy father-daughter novels and postpone American Pastoral until July. Our June book, instead, is The Paris Wife by Paula McLane, a fictional historic account of Hemmingway and his wife in Paris. We are meeting on our regularly-scheduled first Wednesday of the month at the Foxx’s house. The Highlander is on apps and Ms. K. is on dessert!
Until next time, xoej