Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Father Melancholy's Daughter ~ by Gail Godwin, 1991

Father Melancholy's Daughter by Gail Godwin is told from the point of view of Margaret Gower, daughter of an Episcopalian priest.  The story begins with 6-year-old Margaret being upset that her mother has skipped some of their daily routines because an old school friend is visiting.  Margaret childishly decides not to wave to her mother when she boards the schoolbus, and it turns out to be the last time she ever sees her mother.  As the story continues, we see the child grow into a teenager, we see her wishing she had a mother to ask this or that question of, we see her trying to ease her dad through his "melancholy," his black curtain  of depression.

Here's a quote from Father Melancholy's Daughter that relates to the Women Unbound reading challenge.  Mrs. Dunbar, the woman Margaret roomed with while in college, is talking with Margaret (p. 107):
"You girls today have so many choices.  In my day you got married or maybe if you were real brave you taught school or became a nurse.  Nowadays girls can be jockeys or steelworkers . . . or even priests.  Funny!  I don't have anything against a female jockey -- women have always been good riders -- and I don't even mind if some girl sets her heart on a blowtorch and a hard hat, but I just can't go along with women priests."

"Daddy has trouble with it, too."

"I'm like your Daddy.  I just can't look up to a woman priest.  And I never know what to call 'her.  I can't call her 'Father' and I can't call her 'Mother.'  So she ends up being just 'you,' or 'Karen' or 'Linda' or somebody.  And the vestments never fit women right in front, do they?"
The story ends with some surprises which, on reflection, make sense to me.  This book has a sequel showing Margaret still struggling with her past; I'll write about that one tomorrow.

I rate Father Melancholy's Daughter 9 of 10, an excellent book.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I thought this book was dull to say the least. Very difficult to get through as it was extremely boring, however I perservered. The ending was as dull and boring as the rest of the book.