Father of the Rain

( 43 )

Overview


Prize-winning author Lily King’s masterful new novel spans three decades of a volatile relationship between a charismatic, alcoholic father and the daughter who loves him.

Gardiner Amory is a New England WASP who's beginning to feel the cracks in his empire. Nixon is being impeached, his wife is leaving him, and his worldview is rapidly becoming outdated. His daughter, Daley, has spent the first eleven years of her life negotiating her parents’ conflicting worlds: the liberal, ...

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Overview


Prize-winning author Lily King’s masterful new novel spans three decades of a volatile relationship between a charismatic, alcoholic father and the daughter who loves him.

Gardiner Amory is a New England WASP who's beginning to feel the cracks in his empire. Nixon is being impeached, his wife is leaving him, and his worldview is rapidly becoming outdated. His daughter, Daley, has spent the first eleven years of her life negotiating her parents’ conflicting worlds: the liberal, socially committed realm of her mother and the conservative, decadent, liquor-soaked life of her father. But when they divorce, and Gardiner’s basest impulses are unleashed, the chasm quickly widens and Daley is stretched thinly across it.

As she reaches adulthood, Daley rejects the narrow world that nourished her father’s fears and prejudices, and embarks on her own separate life—until he hits rock bottom. Lured home by the dream of getting her father sober, Daley risks everything she's found beyond him, including her new love, Jonathan, in an attempt to repair a trust broken years ago.

A provocative story of one woman's lifelong loyalty to her father, Father of the Rain is a spellbinding journey into the emotional complexities and magnetic pull of family.

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Editorial Reviews

Liesl Schillinger
King is a beautiful writer, with equally strong gifts for dialogue and internal monologue. Silently or aloud, her characters betray the inner tumult they conceal as they try to keep themselves together, wanting others to see them as whole. Whether they're children, teenagers or adults in their 40s, 50s and older, they demonstrate through their confusions that what we like to call coming-of-age is a process that doesn't always end. Like people in real life, King's characters alter their behavior each time they interact with someone different—parent, sibling, friend, lover, student, boss—exposing the protean nature of personality. Context controls character.
—The New York Times
Ron Charles
Surprising and wise…From the first page, we're caught in the tangled lines of affection and menace that will hold Daley in thrall to her father for the rest of her life…It's an absorbing, insightful story written in cool, polished prose right to the last conflicted line.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Whiting Award-winner King (The English Teacher) captures with easy strokes the bold and dangerous personalities lurking inside the mundane frame of domestic drama. Her third novel, narrated by the clear-eyed daughter of an alcoholic father, follows their evolving relationship. The opening scene-- with 11-year-old Daley and her father wreaking delirious havoc by streaking naked at a martini-fueled pool party in the sleepy Boston suburbs-- brims with Daley's love for her father and desire for connection with him, but is also tinged with the repercussions of a charismatic man divorced from the role of parenthood, unlike Daley's socially responsible mother. Daley watches her father's continued degradation, but after years of self-imposed cultural and emotional distance from him--she flourishes at Berkeley and builds a loving, stable relationship with an African-American man she knows her Waspish father will despise--she eventually returns to her father's side after he is no longer capable of living alone. While Daley's perfect romance with her strapping, intelligent suitor is simplistic though sensual, King's latest is original and deftly drawn, the work of a master psychological portraitist. (July)
Booklist
A riveting portrait of a father so spectacularly dysfunctional that he rivals Alfred Lambert, in Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections. . . . Readers will be thoroughly taken by King's exceptionally fluid prose and razor-sharp depiction of the East Coast country-club set.
From the Publisher

Father of the Rain is a big, powerful punch of a novel, a gripping epic about a father and daughter that plumbs the dark side of a family riven by addiction and mental illness. . . . There’s something so raw and affecting about Daley’s love for her damaged father that the book will linger in your mind long after you’ve finished it.”—Entertainment Weekly (A)

“Marilynne Robinson’s Home and Roxana Robinson’s Cost are the most exquisite recent [literary] examples . . . of what living with an addict must be like. . . . Now Lily King’s Father of the Rain is a worthy companion on this theme. Surprising and wise . . . by a writer who understands the horrible burden of trying to save someone who’s ruining your life. . . . A brilliant exploration of the attraction of martyrdom, the intoxication of playing savior. . . . King poses the questions so powerfully that you can’t answer them easily: What kind of abuse finally abrogates one’s responsibility to a self-destructive parent? What is too much to ask of a child? . . . An absorbing, insightful story written in cool, polished prose right to the last conflicted line.”—Washington Post

“Spellbinding . . . Marvelous . . . A story of high drama in the court of Nixon-era New England aristocracy . . . King brilliantly captures the gravitational pull of the past and the way it can eclipse the promise of the present. . . . You won’t be able to stop reading this book, but when you do finally finish the last delicious page and look up, you will see families in a clearer and more forgiving way.”—Vanity Fair

“Luminous . . . Uplifting . . . Fresh, with vividly drawn characters . . . and a clear eye for the details of their singularly messed-up relationships.”—O, the Oprah Magazine

“King infuses soul into this tale of a family torn apart by abuse.”—Marie Claire (Summer Reads)

“King is a beautiful writer, with equally strong gifts for dialogue and internal monologue. Silently or aloud, her characters betray the inner tumult they conceal as they try to keep themselves together . . . [and] demonstrate through their confusions that what we like to call coming-of-age is a process that doesn’t always end.”—Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times Book Review

“You know that moment when the ingenue in the horror movie heads downstairs to check the radiator, and you’re screaming, dumbfounded, at the screen? That’s the sort of protective rage you feel for Daley Amory, the narrator of Lily King’s novel Father of the Rain. . . . Haunting, incisive . . . King is brilliant when writing from the eyes of a tween, all self-conscious curiosity but bright and hopeful as a starry sky. And as Daley grows up and learns how to trust and to love in spite of herself, King cuts a fine, fluid line to the melancholy truth: Even when we’re grown and on our own—wives, mothers, CEOs—we still long to be someone’s daughter. The dream of an absent ideal father is like a thick, soft blanket; find one to burrow under, and enjoy.”—Elle

“[An] excellent novel . . . Sensitive and perceptive . . . King gives us the messy complexities of family without tidying them up or providing neat morals. . . . The moving final pages depict a reconciliation all the more realistic because no one dramatically repents or forgives; they simply acknowledge bonds that can’t be broken. . . . [Father of the Rain] may be King’s best yet.”— Chicago Tribune

“Lily King’s breakout third novel, Father of the Rain, harrowingly evokes a daughter’s fierce devotion to her magnetic WASP father, whose flair for cocktail-fueled self-destruction rivals anything out of Cheever.”—Vogue

“Searing . . . Father of the Rain excavates the powerful forces of love and dysfunction with staggering aplomb. . . . King pulls no punches in her treatment of Gardiner’s alcoholism. . . . The principal feat of this powerful, moving novel is how deeply we understand and feel compassion for Daley, and, amazingly, for Gardiner too; instead of condemning him, we enter into their dynamic on its own distorted terms. This novel is as unflinching as it is beautifully true. You won’t soon forget it.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer

“A beautiful, ruthless novel . . . What is particularly fine about Father of the Rain is King’s unflinching description of Daley’s emotional universe. The devastation in a child’s psyche caused by an alcoholic or drug-addicted parent has never been so well described, so far as I know. The 1970s were the years that kicking over the traces, discarding the supposed repression of centuries, became common. King shows us in precise and inescapable terms just what havoc that ‘freedom’ wrought for the most sensitive. . . . Lily King’s Daley triumphs, but she is also Lily King’s triumph.”—The Globe and Mail

“Lily King writes with huge compassion about this shattered family and the girl growing up in the wreckage. . . . Father of the Rain is a relentless examination of a damaged man and his traumatized, but still loving, daughter. Its strength lies in the particularity of its detail. King creates a fleshed-out world in which, over and over, Gardiner feeds his dogs, opens bottles of vodka and stirs his drinks with his finger. All that happened is here, along with all the feelings.”—Vancouver Sun

“John Cheever and Barbara Kingsolver . . . come to mind when reading Father of the Rain. . . . King shows once again her feel for the emotional undercurrents that control our most important relationships.”—The Seattle Times

“Lily King’s Father of the Rain is one of the most richly satisfying and haunting novels I've read in a long time.”—Richard Russo

“King captures with easy strokes the bold and dangerous personalities lurking inside the . . . frame of domestic drama. . . . Original and deftly drawn, the work of a master psychological portraitist.”—Publishers Weekly

“A riveting portrait of a father so spectacularly dysfunctional that he rivals Alfred Lambert, in Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections. . . . Readers will be thoroughly taken by King’s exceptionally fluid prose and razor-sharp depiction of the East Coast country-club set.” —Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist

“[A] powerful family study . . . Daley is so beautifully portrayed that readers will clench their fists and protectively rail against her actions, only to be taken breathtakingly by surprise when her complicated, determined strength to do the right thing for both her father and herself replaces her losses with a wondrous resolution. Highly recommended.”—Library Journal (starred review)

“Lily King’s Father of the Rain is the most unsettling and exhilarating kind of love story—the sort that interrogates just how resilient the bonds of unconditional love can remain, even after a lifetime of damage at the hands of a heedless parent. This is a passionate and beautifully observed and fair-minded novel”—Jim Shepard, author of Like You’d Understand, Anyway

“In Father of The Rain Lily King creates a brilliant portrait of a man who lives in the everyday world but follows almost none of the everyday rules. The result for his family is excruciating and for the reader a wonderfully intense and absorbing novel that reminds us of just how complicated love can be.”—Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street

“One of King’s extraordinary feats in Father of the Rain is her capacity to travel unflinchingly into the darkest recesses of family bonds, but do it with such unerring specificity that the effect is both comic and utterly heartbreaking. Like The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls, this book beautifully depicts the emotional tightrope a child must walk with a charismatic, intelligent, and emotionally crippled parent. King also has a suspense writer's gift to make the ways her characters love and betray each other a complete, up-late-into-the-night page-turner with an ending that simply took my breath away.”—Cammie McGovern, author of Eye Contact and Neighborhood Watch

“‘We think back through our mothers if we are women,’ wrote Virginia Woolf, but Lily King's powerful novel about a daughter's odyssey to find her way through the tangle of her father's heart and so find herself, claims new terrain. In King's masterful hands, Daley Amory's quest for her drunk, charming, impossible father is heart-breaking and familiar in the oldest sense of the term. I wanted to shut my eyes, and couldn't because I couldn't stop reading. When I finished, I cried for us all.”—Sarah Blake, author of The Postmistress

“A moving, impeccably written drama . . . Packed with phenomenal depth. . . . Fresh with resonant details . . . Beautifully structured . . . King is skilled at zeroing in on the nitty-gritty dynamics of this intense father-daughter relationship . . . [and displays] her ability to capture with visceral complexity a primal yearning to be treated with care.”—The Barnes and Noble Review

“King doesn’t flinch away from telling family secrets—the embarrassing and hurtful moments, the points of danger and ridiculousness. . . . Anyone with complicated family relationships can understand feeling disgust and longing, and King writes it all so clearly—how the little things mean so much and cad add up to so much time lost.”—City Paper (Baltimore)

Library Journal
This powerful family study from King (The English Teacher) begins in the 1970s, when 11-year-old Daley endures the cruel and wildly sexualized behavior of her boorish, alcoholic father while trying to protect her mother. Daley has learned early how to walk the tightrope of misery that stretches between her battling divorcing parents. Fast-forward to Daley as a 29-year-old adult on the brink of living her dream: a professorship at Berkeley and a life with her beloved Jonathan. When her brother calls her home, expecting her to care for her father, who is drowning in the bottle when his second marriage implodes, Daley is faced with impossible choices: save herself or stay with her father while he settles into his shaky sobriety. VERDICT Daley is so beautifully portrayed that readers will clench their fists and protectively rail against her actions, only to be taken breathtakingly by surprise when her complicated, determined strength to do the right thing for both her father and herself replaces her losses with a wondrous resolution. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/10.]—Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI
The Barnes & Noble Review

You know you're in for some heavy weather when a novel takes its title from the Book of Job: "Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew?" Lily King's third novel, Father of the Rain, is a moving, impeccably written drama about a daughter's attachment to a destructive but often disarmingly charming father, and how that bond is pelted by the storms of divorce and alcoholism.

We meet her narrator, Daley Amory, in 1974, on her way back from buying a puppy, an eleventh birthday surprise from her father. King packs phenomenal depth into this tightly composed opening scene. Daley's description of her father singing in the car puts us on immediate notice how closely, vividly observed her tale will be: "He has a low voice scraped out by cigarettes and all the yelling he does." Against her father's wishes, Daley rejects a full-breed Newfoundland in favor of the ugliest mutt in the shop, a choice Gardiner Amory accepts only reluctantly: "'Well, it's her birthday,' he said slowly, with all the bitterness of a boy whose birthday it was not." We soon learn the reason for Daley's odd choice: her mother has told her, confidentially, that she is leaving her father the next day and hopes Daley will go with her. With remarkable maturity, Daley realizes that a beautiful dog "would make leaving even harder."

So, from page one, we are pulled into this vulnerable child's dilemma: a tug-of-war between her parents, and her inability to please them both at once. It's an old story, but King manages to keep it fresh with resonant details, from Gardiner's oft repeated, elitist twist on a refrain from Camelot, "I wonder what the poor people are doing today," to another, all-too-frequent twist: "cracking the paper on a new bottle of vodka."

King's two previous novels also involve the lasting repercussions of adolescent upheaval. The Pleasing Hour (1999) concerns a remarkably mature 17-year-old American who flees to Paris to work as an au pair after bearing a child for her sister, having failed to anticipate the distress this altruistic act would cause her. In The English Teacher (2005), a single mother, the eponymous teacher at an exclusive coastal New England boarding school, is haunted by a repressed trauma from her teens when she finally lets down her guard sixteen years later.

Father of the Rain covers 34 years, 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 the tennis club requires women to wear not just whites, but skirts. Daley attends an elite private school, and her father's life revolves around his dogs, his tennis game, his martinis, his swimming pool, his step-families, and his "New England WASP Museum" of a home. A Harvard-educated broker, Gardiner is racist, anti-Semitic, and deeply sexist. He blames his son's and daughter's liberalism and slovenly dress on their mother, whom he never forgives for leaving him.

King is skilled at zeroing in on the nitty-gritty dynamics of this 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. These 18- and 15-year hiatuses, effectively accounted for with broad strokes, show how Daley gets on with her life by pulling away from her father's corrosive orbit. The breaks also serve to underscore how, just as a single drink is enough to send a recovered alcoholic reeling, an urgent phone call is enough to upset Daley's carefully constructed world and send her plunging back into the filial tangle.

The prose in Father of the Rain never soars to the heights of King's rose-tinged descriptions of Paris in The Pleasing Hour; what's on display here is her ability to capture with visceral complexity a primal yearning to be treated with care. When Daley finally achieves the distance to wonder about her father, "Was he only ever capable of feeling his own needs, his own pain?" the question highlights King's most impressive accomplishment in this beautifully structured story: she has us feeling for all of her characters.

--Heller McAlpin

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802145345
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/10/2011
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 597,592
  • Product dimensions: 8.06 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

Lily King

Lily King is the author of two previous novels, The Pleasing Hour and The English Teacher. A Whiting Award winner, she lives in Maine with her family.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 43 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 43 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2010

    Father of The Rain

    Very well written.inspirational...makes one think and understand a father and daughter relationship..especially those who have been surrounded by alcholics in their life.a personal insightful journey that hits closer to home than many of us want to admit...I love how the book is divided into the different eras of Daylee's life....We understand so much in the conclusion and how Daylee's life with her parents has created a strong woman, mother, wife and daughter...she's a giver and her father is a giver in his own world...Daylee and her brother, Garvey, carry the bits of love they do remember and tie their hearts to those strings to propel them into functional adult lives.
    I loved it...

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 22, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Page turner with such a unique style and story...and an ending t

    Page turner with such a unique style and story...and an ending that floored me. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2012

    Well Written

    Easy to read, grabs you quickly, charachters are well defined
    good choice for book club

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 3, 2012

    LOVED THIS BOOK -- HIGHLY RECOMMEND

    I LOVED THIS BOOK, THE ENDING DID NOT DISAPPOINT ME. A DIVORCE, EVEN A FRIENDLY ONE HURTS THE FAMILY AND THE CHILDREN ALWAYS FEEL TORN BETWEEN BOTH PARENTS. DALEY'S LOYALTY TOWARDS HER FATHER WAS HEARTBREAKING, A FATHER IS ALWAYS A LITTLE GIRLS HERO.

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  • Posted February 25, 2011

    Fabulous and Awesome!

    One of the best books I've read this year, It will have you wanting more, you will love this story of a daughters unconditional love for her father!

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  • Posted February 16, 2011

    Recommended

    A good read.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2010

    Wonderful

    Beautifully written, heartbreaking novel

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  • Posted November 19, 2010

    One of the Best I've Read This Year.

    This book focuses on the relationship of a Daughter and her Father...and had me reflecting on how I was raised - and how I raised my children. The main character had me so in love with her - as a young girl I wanted to wrap my arms around her and protect her; as a young woman I wanted to set her free from her emotional bonds to an abusive father. Great read from start to finish...you wont be dissappointed.

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    Posted September 29, 2010

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