CHARLIE'S DAUGHTER by Susan Child

CHARLIE'S DAUGHTER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Despite some gratuitous clinical sex, 1980s-style, this predictable little soap is essentially recycled from all those 1930s-'50s movie-tearjerkers about a noble Back Street mistress and her loving (but married and class-bound) Sugar Daddy. First-novelist Child starts off with a 1981 lunch between 64-year-old aristocrat Charles Swarm and his 21-year-old illegitimate daughter Kate--virtually their first meeting. But most of the story is a flashback beginning in 1959, when Michael MacDonnell, caretaker of the Swann estate outside of Boston, is killed in a car crash, leaving his devastated young widow Anne . . . who is allowed to stay on at the caretaker's cottage by Michael's boss Charlie Swarm. And soon Charlie, wed to barren, primly beautiful Alicia and smitten by earthy Anne (at Michael's funeral her eyes reveal ""a remarkable blend of dignity, grief, and sensuality""), is visiting the widow for hot sessions heavy on clitoral stimulation. Pregnancy ensues, of course--so noble Anne weds Hugh Finch, the new caretaker, thus letting society-conscious Charlie off the hook. But neither marriage holds up over the years: Anne leaves Hugh (who's always suspected that baby Kate wasn't his) for nice teacher Alan and a new life of intellectual self-improvement; Alicia goes bonkers and dies in a fire after she loses her long-anticipated baby to crib death. And finally, when Anne dies of cancer, Charlie reclaims daughter Kate, promptly has a heart attack, and leaves her a fortune. Except for a humorous touch or two in the portrait of Charlie's society circle: rudimentary soap-and-sex, with virtually every incident (e.g., the scene where Charlie sees Anne getting on a train years later and vainly tries to catch up with her) on loan from the RKO Collection of Ancient Hollywood Corn.

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 1981
Publisher: New American Library