HIS WIFE AND DAUGHTERS by Wendy Nelson Tokunaga


Email this review


A fictional politician’s indiscretion with an intern changes his family’s life, as told by his family.

Congressman Dan Brath has a lovely wife, two beautiful daughters and affairs. When Lesley, one of his interns, disappears, suspicion falls on Dan. The political fallout from the scandal—no doubt taking inspiration from countless real life extramarital escapades—affects not only his career but also his family. In a refreshing narrative device, chapters fluctuate between narration by his wife Trina, older daughter Jill and younger daughter Phoebe. We meet them before, during and after the fiasco, which helps put the troubling event into perspective. Jill embarks on a new relationship after her parents’ marriage deteriorates, while Phoebe, after leaving home, becomes an exotic hostess in Japan and later a rich man’s mistress. Trina goes hippie—healthy diet, yoga, etc.—which apparently helps her cope. Understandably, the women struggle with trust issues, particularly with the older men inevitably drawn to them. The family dynamic strains further when Trina opts to stay with Dan, despite his infidelities, and Phoebe plans to make a documentary film about the debacle. As the narrative winds through the family’s various coping mechanisms, Lesley remains an enigma, whom Jill plots to confront 20 years after the scandal to discover the truth behind her mysterious disappearance and resurfacing. The women’s perspectives are distinctly presented with a strong sense of place, especially in San Francisco, as they discover and develop their own anxieties in lives shattered by their father’s selfishness.

Political scandal with an interesting twist that hits the mark.

Pub Date: Dec. 19th, 2011
Page count: 299pp
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:


FictionSCANDALMONGER by William Safire
by William Safire
FictionPOLITICAL DEATH by Antonia Fraser
by Antonia Fraser
FictionTHE LATEST BOMBSHELL by Michele Mitchell
by Michele Mitchell