OUR FATHER by Marilyn French


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 More quasi-feminist Sturm und Drang from a certified mistress of the genre (Her Mother's Daughter, 1987, etc.), this featuring four grown half-sisters reunited to care for the elderly father who cheerfully abused but failed to love them. Take one Frigid Intellectual (Elizabeth, a 50-something assistant secretary of the treasury); one Dizzy Socialite (Mary, a simpering, middle-aged divorcÇe); one Middle-Class Housewife (Alex, an empty-nester who longs to commune with God); and one Young Woman of Color (Ronnie, grad student and illegitimate daughter of her father's maid), mix them together, and you have one Total Woman for the 90's. French, however, seeks drama in keeping her stereotypes separate but closeted together and letting them bicker for several hundred pages. The four females, having been raised separately by different mothers, meet at the mansion of their elderly father- -Quintessential White Guy Stephen Upton, a mover and shaker in Republican circles and an entertainer of presidents and kings--to decide on his future care in the wake of a debilitating stroke. While Upton languishes in the hospital, the half-sisters occupy his mansion outside Boston, fencing warily with one another at first, then tentatively comparing notes and learning, to their own amazement, if not the reader's, that they were each in turn raped, terrorized, and otherwise tormented by their supposedly refined father. As Upton returns for in-home care, these silly sisters, who've moved from entertaining spiteful thoughts of one another (``She's good looking but getting fat,'' ``Ditzy little housewife,'' etc.) to bursting into frequent tears and embracing on a moment's notice, decide to put their monster-father through a secret trial. The expression of their long-suppressed rage will make them rich beyond all expectation--and the ultimate survivors. A book that begins with ``Women can hurt you just as much as men!'' and ends with ``My father's mansion, my prison. Go, Ronnie'' has little to offer in the way of fresh ideas. A musty, messy fairy tale with plenty of passion but no style.

Pub Date: Jan. 10th, 1994
ISBN: 0-316-29390-3
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1993


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