Sometimes no father is better than a false father.
At nineteen, Jake Alderdice is shy, contemplative, and passionate about art. With the death of his grandfather, shipping magistrate Malcolm Alderdice, he becomes the new family patriarch and heir to Alderdice Shipping and Alderdice Luxury Liner. After two years of mourning, he is ready to add to the family honor just as all the Alderdice men have, but as an artist, not a shipping magistrate. His plans are delayed with his mother announces the family will be retreating to Waxwood, now a fashionable resort town favored by the San Francisco elite, for the summer, fulfilling her father's dying wish to "go back".
On the train, he meets Harland Stevens, an enigmatic but charming older man, who has come to Waxwood as chaperone and guide to his college-aged cousin Roger and Roger's friends. Mr. Stevens, or, as he tells Jake, "just Stevens", takes an interest in the young man's ambitions, and introduces him to the town's most prominent gallery owner. But when Jake takes his paintings for appraisal, the man delivers a fatal blow — Jake's mythology-inspired paintings are too original for the market of realistic landscape paintings favored by Gilded Age patrons.
Stevens seizes the devastated and wandering Jake and counsels him toward a more aggressive but moralistic path to manhood inspired by Teddy Roosevelt and Thoreau. Jake proves himself to be more studious and serious than Roger and his friends. Impressed with the young man's determination to take over his grandfather's business, Stevens introduces him to The Order of Actaeon, a secret society built upon those ideals favored by his idols.
But the path to emotional maturity and masculine identity is, Jake learns, a complex thing in the Gilded Age. Will his journey free him from the Alderdice family illusions, half-truths, and lies that have kept him a child, just as it did his sister Vivian's six years before? Or will it lead him into the world of Actaeon, where the hunter becomes the hunted?
About the Author
Tam May grew up in the United States and earned her B.A. and M.A in English. She worked as an English college instructor and EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher before she became a full-time writer. She started writing when she was 14, and writing became her voice. She writes fiction about characters who find their future by exploring their personal past influenced by the time in which they live.
Her first book, a collection of contemporary short stories titled Gnarled Bones And Other Stories, was nominated for a 2017 Summer Indie Book Award. She is currently working on a Gilded Age family saga. The first book, The Specter, is now available, and the second book will be out in December, 2019. She is also working on a historical mystery series featuring a turn-of-the-century New Woman sleuth. Both series take place in Northern California.
She lives in Texas but calls San Francisco and the Bay Area “home”. When she’s not writing, she’s reading classic literature and historical fiction, watching classic films, or cooking up awesome vegetarian dishes.
For more information on Tam May and her work, feel free to check out her website at www.tammayauthor.com
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Tam May knows her stuff, and skillfully weaves a tale of, by today’s standards, a coming-of-age story near the early days of the twentieth century in America. Once the reader gets past an expected but not always practiced two-year mourning period of a family member, the adventure begins. Genteel to the maximum, False Fathers is not an action adventure, but a thoughtful commentary on the last principled era. After the lengthy period of withdrawal from society, the Alderdice family of San Francisco, shipping magnate, takes to the country for the summer. The male heir to the Alderdice business, Jacob, has reached, or nearly so, his majority, and must decide his future. He is a thoughtful, torn young man who would like to practice painting, to seek a profession as an artist instead of stepping into his familial shoes of business. His strong-willed mother, Larissa, is willing to let him explore this fancy. Jake’s older sister, Vivian, had her adventure some years earlier when she visited a friend of her late grandmother. With his mother and sister always in contention, Jake slides away from the tension and encounters a strangely compelling man chaperoning a group of university boys on a summer lark. Jake and the man, Stevens, begin a mentoring relationship which ends in a sobering, fate-changing reality in an otherwise unassuming summer. Jake was raised by his late grandfather, and is subconsciously seeking another father figure who will guide him on his decisions for his future. What he learns is that everyone has secrets and failings. Even his family history is built upon secrets and failings and it is up to him to live up to his own principles. Written primarily from Jake’s point of view, False Fathers is recommended for those who appreciate a little-explored period in American history. Those who love the story of Margaret Brown (“unsinkable” Molly Brown, without the music) or the era of suffrage, will enjoy Tam May’s Waxwood series.