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A Family Daughter

A Family Daughter by Maile Meloy
26 reviews (2006) (336p) Best Books

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Book Description
One of the most insightful novels about families to appear in recent years, A Family Daughter revisits the Santerre clan from Maile Meloy's highly acclaimed debut novel Liars and Saints. It opens in 1979, when seven-year-old Abby, the youngest member of the close-knit family, is trapped indoors with chicken pox during a heat wave.

The events set in motion that summer span decades and continents -- irrevocably changing the lives of the Santerres and those around them. Review
The Family Santerre, first introduced by Maile Meloy in her 2003 novel, Liars and Saints, is back again, inspected and reported on from another angle. This time, in A Family Daughter, granddaughter Abby is the narrator. She is left with grandmother Yvette when she is seven, suffering in equal parts from chickenpox and boredom. Her mother, Clarissa, is off trying to remember what it was to be happy. Feckless Uncle Jamie is called upon to entertain Abby. A bond is formed between them at that time that has far-reaching consequences.

This family is the most chaotic bunch of narcissists to come along in some time. Yvette and Teddy, matriarch and patriarch, are devout Catholics on whom some of their childrens' antics are, fortunately, lost. Jamie is another centerpiece of the novel: funny, charming, libidinous slacker that he is, he is temporarily irresistible to everyone. Abby hits a bad patch in college after the death of her father and Jamie is there to console, and sleep with her. The impact of this event (eight events, really) results in a book, maybe fiction, maybe true, that eventually has the whole family on its respective and collective ear.

Abby's Aunt Margot, exemplary wife and mother, on automatic pilot for thirty years, suddenly leaves home to find a former lover. Clarissa might be a lesbian, she isn't sure. Abby, now happily ensconced with her former T.A., Peter, is lured to Argentina by Jamie to help care for his libertine fiancee's mother's adopted child. And, that's just a peek at what's going on. Convoluted? Yes, but it all works. Meloy can write the socks off most authors. She maintains an ironic distance from her characters in prose that you absolutely cannot stop reading until you find out every last detail. The whole shebang culminates in a Christmas celebration with everyone present. Not your ordinary singing-around-the-piano event. May the Santerres continue to thrive in Meloy's imagination! --Valerie Ryan

Other Award Winning Books by Maile Meloy
Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want by Maile Meloy
44 reviews (2009) (240p) (NYTimes)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's page
Liars and Saints by Maile Meloy
50 reviews (2003) (272p) (Amazon)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's page

Maile Meloy Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 0  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 0  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 0  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 0  
National Book Award Wins 0  
National Book Award Nominations 0  
Man Booker Prize Wins 0  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 0  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award


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