What Is Left the Daughter

( 29 )

Overview

Howard Norman, widely regarded as one of this country’s finest novelists, returns to the mesmerizing fictional terrain of his major books—The Bird Artist, The Museum Guard, and The Haunting of L—in this erotically charged and morally complex story.

Seventeen-year-old Wyatt Hillyer is suddenly orphaned when his parents, within hours of each other, jump off two different bridges—the result of their separate involvements with the same compelling neighbor, a Halifax switchboard ...

See more details below
Paperback
$11.91
BN.com price
(Save 14%)$13.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (43) from $1.99   
  • New (15) from $1.99   
  • Used (28) from $1.99   
What Is Left the Daughter

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.49
BN.com price
(Save 17%)$13.95 List Price

Overview

Howard Norman, widely regarded as one of this country’s finest novelists, returns to the mesmerizing fictional terrain of his major books—The Bird Artist, The Museum Guard, and The Haunting of L—in this erotically charged and morally complex story.

Seventeen-year-old Wyatt Hillyer is suddenly orphaned when his parents, within hours of each other, jump off two different bridges—the result of their separate involvements with the same compelling neighbor, a Halifax switchboard operator and aspiring actress. The suicides cause Wyatt to move to small-town Middle Economy to live with his uncle, aunt, and ravishing cousin Tilda.

Setting in motion the novel’s chain of life-altering passions and the wartime perfidy at its core is the arrival of the German student Hans Mohring, carrying only a satchel. Actual historical incidents—including a German U-boat’s sinking of the Nova Scotia–Newfoundland ferry Caribou, on which Aunt Constance Hillyer might or might not be traveling—lend intense narrative power to Norman’s uncannily layered story.

Wyatt’s account of the astonishing—not least to him— events leading up to his fathering of a beloved daughter spills out twenty-one years later. It’s a confession that speaks profoundly of the mysteries of human character in wartime and is directed, with both despair and hope, to an audience of one.

An utterly stirring novel. This is Howard Norman at his celebrated best.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The quiet power of this book comes on slowly and unrelentingly, offering a mesmerizing look into one man’s past. Creating one of the most captivating and effective uses of the retrospective letter format in recent memory, Norman’s prose is understated, eloquent and perfectly chosen, and his novel paints a picture of one man’s legacy that will not soon be lost." 
BookPage

"The latest from master of precision Howard Norman is again set in the gray majesty of Nova Scotia, where 17-year-old orphan Wyatt Hillyer moves in with his devoted aunt and uncle and their adopted daughter, Tilda, the love of stoic Wyatt's life. The ravages of Hitler and his dastardly German U-boats lurking beneath Canadian waters hit their home hard. In What Is Left the Daughter, Norman writes with spare elegance and dry humor, and the extraordinary emotional power of his slim new novel is earned with authentic grace. Grade: A" 
Entertainment Weekly

"Fans of Howard Norman's THE BIRD ARTIST will recognize the venue and the oddball characters in the author's beautiful new novel, WHAT IS LEFT THE DAUGHTER....Norman turns a tiny town into an entire world in which even the most heinous sins can—almost—be forgiven." 
O, The Oprah Magazine

"Howard Norman has captured the fear and suspicion that World War II brought to the East Coast perfectly, as news reports circulate and the silent and spooky threat of the U-boats is ever-present….Norman also captures the speech and texture of life in Nova Scotia with gentle humor and deft description…No improvement needed [for WHAT IS LEFT THE DAUGHTER]; it is perfect." 
Shelf Awareness

"[A]n expertly crafted tale of love during wartime…Norman’s writing is effortless, and his plot is grand in scope but studded with moments of tenderness and intimacy that help crystallize the anxiety and weariness of life on the home front. That Norman is able to achieve so much in 250 pages is a testament to his mastery of the craft."
—Publishers Weekly , STARRED

"Norman (best known for The Bird Artist, 1994) scores again with this gripping account of a family ripped apart by obsession and murder...It is extraordinary that a story which carries such a weight of sorrow is never depressing, but Norman the master craftsman pulls it off." —Kirkus, STARRED

"Norman’s piquant insights into life’s wildness, human eccentricity, and love’s maddening persistence are matched by rhapsodic and profound descriptions of everything from perfectly baked scones to pelting rain and the devouring sea, while anguish is tempered with humor, thanks to rapid-fire banter and marvelously spiky characters." 
Booklist, STARRED

"Howard Norman’s new novel, WHAT IS LEFT THE DAUGHTER, is the best story of love in the time of war I’ve ever read. And yes, that includes COLD MOUNTAIN AND A FAREWELL TO ARMS....WHAT IS LEFT THE DAUGHTER affirms what many of Howard Norman’s readers have known since he published his magical first novel, THE NORTHERN LIGHTS. Norman is most certainly one of America’s three or four best novelists, with a uniquely wise and tolerant vision of his characters and all human beings everywhere. So let’s not mince words. WHAT IS LEFT THE DAUGHTER is a literary masterpiece that will, I guarantee it, live on in your heart, and mine, forever." —Howard Mosher, Amazon.com

"Howard Norman is a master storyteller, packing provocative details into virtually every sentence of this short, but hardly slight, novel....What is left the daughter—and the reader—here is the gift of one man's utterly human, heartbreaking life story." 
BookBrowse.com

"This saga of sorrow, love, and a father's desire to meet his grown daughter displays power...moving" —Boston Globe 

"You lean in, trying to catch every word, lulled by [Norman's] voice as he describes the most ordinary lives that just happen to be punctuated by macabre accidents. . . . Norman offers a kind of rough-hewn poetry throughout [with an] ardor that shimmers just below the surface." —Washington Post

"Reminiscent of a classic Robert Frank black-and-white photograph, this candid, everyday portrait discloses intricate webs of wistfulness and resignation. Norman raises absorbing moral quandaries, particularly about the possibilities of forgiveness...The epistolary form of this novel is a cri de coeur from an author faithful to the printed word in a time of promiscuous texting, friending and tweeting. Students today who can't write in cursive are able to e-mail across the world. The reflective, personal storytelling in "What Is Left the Daughter" reminds us of the potential beauty, intimacy and wisdom offered by two endangered genres

—the letter and the novel." —Los Angeles Times

Ron Charles
Nobody screams in Howard Norman's new novel, although they should. This Washington writer maintains such a measured tone that his story seems shocking only in retrospect. At the time, you lean in, trying to catch every word, lulled by his voice as he describes the most ordinary lives that just happen to be punctuated by macabre accidents and bizarre acts of violence.
—The Washington Post
Daniel Wallace
What Is Left the Daughter is about the dubious choices otherwise sensible people make in the crucible of a terrible war. Some of the choices are minor…but others could not be more important. There is a lot of death in this book. I count seven important deaths…and half a dozen minor ones besides, a high body count for any novel. Yet the book is never overwhelmingly dark or morbid, which is a feat. Wyatt's voice and Norman's crisp, readable style keep the story fresh.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Set on the Atlantic coast of Canada during WWII, Norman’s latest (after Devotion) is an expertly crafted tale of love during wartime. Wyatt Hillyer loses both his parents on the same day when they jump from different bridges in Halifax, Nova Scotia, after they discover they are both having affairs with the woman next door. Wyatt’s aunt and uncle take him in, and Wyatt becomes his uncle’s apprentice in his sled and toboggan business and, despite the circumstances, soon falls in love with his adopted cousin, Tilda. Yet he must resign himself to loving from a distance when Tilda brings home Hans Moehring, a German university student. The two begin a courtship harshly complicated by reports of U-boat attacks on Canadian ships, and Tilda’s father becoming increasingly uneasy about this potential enemy in their midst. Norman’s writing is effortless, and his plot is grand in scope but studded with moments of tenderness and intimacy that help crystallize the anxiety and weariness of life on the home front. That Norman is able to achieve so much in 250 pages is a testament to his mastery of the craft. (July)
Kirkus Reviews
Norman (best known for The Bird Artist, 1994) scores again with this gripping account of a family ripped apart by obsession and murder. In format, the novel is a long letter written by Wyatt Hillyer to Marlais, the daughter he scarcely knows, to explain the "terrible incident" that has kept them apart. But Wyatt must start with something equally terrible. In 1941, when he was 17, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, his parents jumped to their deaths from separate bridges; they were unhappily in love with the same woman. Wyatt leaves Halifax to live with his Uncle Donald, Aunt Constance and adopted daughter Tilda in their small town, and becomes apprenticed to his sled-making uncle. The hoped-for sanctuary is anything but. Wyatt has exchanged his parents' erotic obsession for his uncle's obsession with German U-boats swarming beneath the Atlantic; on top of that, he is now an unhappy lover himself, yearning for Tilda. It is his rotten luck that Tilda should have fallen for Hans Mohring, a German philology student. Wyatt accepts his fate as the rejected suitor-no histrionics for him. Meanwhile the news that Constance, on a ferry, is among the latest U-boat victims, catapults Donald into madness. He murders Hans (already married to Tilda) and has Wyatt help him dump the body in the ocean. Donald confesses and gets life; Wyatt, morally innocent but legally culpable, draws a short sentence. After his release, he makes love to the bereft Tilda, just once. In time Tilda will move with their baby Marlais to Denmark, home to Hans's parents; now, in 1967, Wyatt is making full disclosure to his grown daughter. Though himself a victim twice over, and still feeling the pain of his parents' deaths, he has never complained. Norman has developed this brave, emotionally reticent man with great delicacy. It is extraordinary that a story which carries such a weight of sorrow is never depressing, but Norman the master craftsman pulls it off.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547521824
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 5/3/2011
  • Pages: 264
  • Sales rank: 274,023
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Howard Norman is a three-time winner of National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, and a winner of the Lannan Award for fiction. His novels The Northern Lights and The Bird Artist were both nominated for a National Book Award. He is also author of the novels The Museum Guard , The Haunting of L , and What Is Left the Daughter.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

What Is Left the Daughter
MARLAIS, today is March 27, 1967, your twenty-first birthday. I’m writing because I refuse any longer to have my life defined by what I haven’t told you. I’ve waited until now to relate the terrible incident that I took part in on October 16, 1942, when I was nineteen.
 Your mother, Tilda Hillyer, frequently consulted The Highland Book of Platitudes, which had 411 pages. She had it practically memorized. She found instruction and solace in that book, even the solution to certain puzzles about life. But I thought all those platitudes put together avoided the fact that life is unpredictable. For instance, after moving hotel to hotel here in Halifax for many years, I’ve finally returned to my childhood house at 58 Robie Street, which I never thought I’d set foot in again.
 In fact, it’s now three A.M.—I scarcely sleep anyway—and I’m writing at my kitchen table.
 Two Sundays ago, I stopped in at Harbor Methodist Church. On occasion I do that. More out of nostalgia than present faith, to say the least. Anyway, when I entered the church Reverend Lundrigan was recounting some ancient parable or other in which an elderly woman listens to her son hold forth about how much heartbreak, sour luck and spiritual depletion can be packed into a life. But talk as he might, the man from the parable fails to address the one thing his mother is most curious about. “What of your daughter?” she asks. “Have you seen her? How is her life? Do not doubt that wonderment may be found when you find her again.” Turns out, the man hasn’t seen his own daughter in ages. “Rain, wind, hunger, thirst, joy and sorrow have visited her all along,” the woman says. “Yet her father has not.” She listens more, all the while experiencing a deeper and deeper sadness, until finally she says, “And what is left the daughter?” She doesn’t mean heirloom objects. She doesn’t mean money. She doesn’t care about anything like those. She says, “I think you have a secret untold that keeps a distance between you and her and the life you were given.”
 Well, Marlais, you know how people talked in biblical times. Still, when I left the church, I thought, Strange how you can’t predict during which happenstance you might take something to heart. And right then and there I understood that all I had to leave you, really, is what I’m writing here. I’ve read some of the English poet John Keats, and he said something to the effect that memory shouldn’t be confused with knowledge. Of course, I have no way of knowing if, after you’ve read a paragraph or two, any curiosity you might’ve had will abruptly sour to disgust, or worse. Yet I hope you’ll see these pages through. And that whatever else you may think, whatever judgments you come to, please at least accept the knowledge that I’ve always loved you, without cease.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 29 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(6)

4 Star

(8)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(3)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A REMARKABLE PORTRAIT OF WORLD WAR II

    A three-time winner of National Endowment for the Arts fellowships Howard Norman also penned The Northern Lights and The Bird Artist, which were nominated for National Book Awards. He is a writer of estimable talent as is once more evidenced in WHAT IS LEFT THE DAUGHTER, a remarkable portrait of World War II and its effects upon hearts and minds. Themes of love, death, survival, and legacy are explored as the story unfolds through a letter narrator William Hillyer is writing to his 21-year-old daughter, Marlais.

    When 17-year-old Wyatt was orphaned he went to live with his Aunt Constance and Uncle Donald in Nova Scotia. His parents died in a double suicide, and their funeral is an opportunity for the author to display his oblique wit - when a minister is paid $50 for his services, the reverend replies that he usually gets $50 for each. Nonetheless, Wyatt's letter to Marlais primarily concerns what happened before she was born.

    Once in Nova Scotia he helps in his uncle's business - making sled and toboggans and quickly falls in love with Tilda, their beauteous daughter. She does not reciprocate his feelings but as a world war looms she marries a young German.

    Norman captures us with the actions and decisions people make during a time of war, such as Wyatt's uncle destroying his prized record collection. In the end when Wyatt returns to his childhood home and comes face to face with the reason his parents took their own lives he is mystified.

    Having recently heard Bronson Pinchot narrate "Angelina," I was taken with his versatility. Again, Pinchot's voice is notable for its clarity and perfect enunciation, bringing the listener both surprise and sadness as Wyatt writes to his daughter.

    Recommended.

    - Gail Cooke

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 17, 2010

    Not a book for me, but it has been well reviewed by others.

    What is Left the Daughter is one, long letter written by Wyatt Hillyer to his daughter Marlais. He writes because "I refuse any longer to have my life defined by what I haven't told you." The story begins with his parents double suicide over their love for the same woman. It goes downhill from there.

    I expect grief and horror from a book set during the war, but usually that is accompanied by great human courage and sacrifice. This story seemed to be all senseless acts of violence and grief inflicted on innocent people by their loved ones. There were no heroes here and I didn't find much redemption either. The characters had little depth and I never felt like I understood them. Not a book for me, but it has been well reviewed by others. Perhaps if you are interested in the history of this time then the perspective of the war from Nova Scotia could be unique.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)