This is My Daughter: A Novel

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9780684864365: This is My Daughter: A Novel

When Peter and Emma, both refugees from failed first marriages, decide to create a new life together, they do so with an optimistic commitment to creating a union -- and forging a new family from two existing ones -- bonded by love and trust. Their young daughters, however, are not partners in this new venture, but helpless participants. Like all children of divorce, the girls feel sorrow, loss, and a longing for their earlier lives. As the tensions and complexities grow steadily more powerful, This Is My Daughter moves inexorably to a stunning and emotional climax. Roxana Robinson, who has established a reputation as a perceptive chronicler of WASP family life, delivers a beautifully moving and compassionate account of a marriage in peril, proving once more that class and privilege provide no protection from the passion of opposing desires.

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Review:

If divorce rips a family apart, can a second marriage mend the tear, piecing the remnants together into one big Brady Bunch quilt? Of course not. In This Is My Daughter, New Yorkers Peter Chatfield and Emma Kirkland learn this the hard way. Roxana Robinson--whose dissection of WASP mores in Asking for Love and Summer Light earned her comparisons to such white-shoe masters as John Cheever, Edith Wharton, and Henry James--is on familiar ground here, placing Peter and Emma within the gilded cocoon of Manhattan's Upper East Side. Recently divorced, socially superior, and smarting from subhuman ex-spouses, the two have much in common, not least the desire to marry again. Emma's daughter, Tess, warms to the idea immediately. But for Peter's sullen seven-year-old, this union signals a disaster rather than a fresh start: "Amanda could not be happy that her father was marrying Emma.... She was already, at seven, in mourning for her life, for her past and happy life, that other world."

Over the next eight years, Amanda's inability to deal with her father's remarriage, which the adults dismiss as mere adolescent angst, becomes a sizable thorn in the family's side. Despite all of Peter and Emma's best-laid plans--private schools, a picture-perfect summer home in New England, tennis clinics, invites to exclusive parties--Amanda grows increasingly alienated, and with one desperate act she forces the family to peel back their moneyed exterior and examine the heart of the matter. In This Is My Daughter, Robinson has created a skillful and sensitive portrayal of divorce and its post-nuclear-family fallout.

About the Author:

Roxana Barry Robinson is the author of the novel Summer Light, the biography Georgia O'Keeffe: A Life, and the short-story collections A Glimpse of Scarlet and Asking for Love. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, The New Yorker, and Vogue, as well as in Best American Short Stories, and has been read on National Public Radio. Three of her books have been selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year. She is the recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She lives in Westchester County and New York City.

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Robinson, Roxana
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