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The Orphan Game

Darby, Ann

61 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0688167780 / ISBN 13: 9780688167783
Published by Morrow, 1999
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Bill Leone, Bookseller, ABAA (Palos Verdes Estates, CA, U.S.A.)

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First Edition (first printing). The first novel by this New York City auithor, the story of a young woman's passage from a troubled family when she is forced into an early childhood. Fine/Fine. Signed by Darby on the title page. Bookseller Inventory # 2347

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Orphan Game

Publisher: Morrow

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Signed: Signed by Author

Edition: 1st Edition.

About this title


Beautifully written, wonderfully observed, and deeply felt, Ann Darby's haunting first novel marks the debut of an important new voice in women's fiction.

A moving coming-of-age novel, The Orphan Game tells the story of a young woman's passage, from the troubled family she's longing to escape to the "family" she struggles to create when she is forced into an adulthood for which she's not prepared.

Set in a quiet Southern California town in 1965, a town where the rules of the fifties haven't quite departed and the new mores of the sixties are fast encroaching, this rueful tale is told in the intertwined voices of three women: Maggie, the young woman struggling to define herself; Marian, the mother who must relinquish her; and Mrs. Rumsen, the childless great-aunt who cares for Maggie when her mother can't. As each woman tells her tale, it becomes clear that each has, in her own way, played the orphan game--taken the risk to leave home, to claim her life, and--above all--to be loved.

As the war in Vietnam is escalating and as brush fires are blackening the California foothills, the Harris family shatters and is driven to find new ways to live with one another. With an intimacy immediate and true, The Orphan Game portrays the powerful love that can not only bind a family but can also break it apart.


"My parents died in a plane crash," one of us would say.
"My parents left me in a doghouse."
"I am the daughter of the Queen of England, and you are the Prince of the Moon."

This is the orphan game that Maggie Harris, her brother Jamie, and her sister Alison used to play when their troubled parents left them alone. Now these three must navigate not only their own fractured home life but the convulsive '60s as well. Set in Southern California, Ann Darby's debut novel juxtaposes domestic trauma against the relentlessly sunny backdrop of the suburban American dream--a dream, we soon learn, gone woefully awry. Jim Harris, a developer, is constantly sinking money into schemes that should make him rich but don't; his wife, Marian, barely keeps the family financially afloat working as a seamstress. Maggie, the oldest child, falls in love with her high school sweetheart, who is bound for Vietnam, and becomes pregnant. Before she can break this news, however, a fight erupts--with tragic consequences--and Maggie flees to the home of her mother's eccentric aunt, Mrs. Rumsen. Here she gradually realizes that even after you've blasted your life to smithereens you can still "gather up bits and pieces of the wrecked past and make something fine of them."

Darby tells this story from several different perspectives; though Maggie is the main narrator, we also hear from her mother, Mrs. Rumsen, and occasionally her brother and sister as well. The Orphan Game draws a telling portrait of a family already in crisis, living in a nation on the brink of one. Though Vietnam looms in the background, in this novel, at least, the real battlefield is in the characters' own backyard. --Margaret Prior

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