Friday, August 30, 2013

Our Father

1994, 1995 Ballantine edition
Marilyn French
Our Father
Original price $6.99, purchase price $1.98
Very worn paperback with split spine

This is about on a level with French's other novels, Her Mother's Daughter of course excepted.  I prefer it somewhat to Smiley's Thousand Acres.  Again, the incestuous tyrant of a father is not quite humanized.  We never find out exactly why he's such a monster.  (Is it his wealth?  Is French saying all rich men are monsters?  Or at least have the opportunity to become so?)  But I did like that the sisters, four halves, find sisterhood in both personal and political senses, unlike the sisterhood and sisters falling apart in Acres.  Like Acres, it's set in the recent past, in this case the last couple months of 1984, so that French can include Reagan's reelection.  The title character was friends with powerful Republican leaders, including Reagan.

There is some soap-boxing, from various perspectives throughout the novel, but it's more plausible than in Walker, since the four women are all talkers with strong opinions, and they're sort of trapped in the house they grew up in, mostly with just each other's company.  I felt like the book never quite gelled, but it was never dull.

French died in 2009, at 79.  I've never read any of her other books, and although she can be quite good at times, I always hesitate even to reread, because her writing can be emotionally and intellectually draining.

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