Monday, May 21, 2012

The Good Father, by Diane Chamberlain - Review

What To Expect 
Diane Chamberlain's books are more "women's fiction" than romance or chick lit.  The stories often center on family issues, and while there is usually a Happily Ever After and often a romantic element, the focus is not typically on a falling-in-love arc.

What Ms. Chamberlain really does best is characters.  The Good Father is told from three different first person viewpoints, and covers about four years of events.  While this could end up being confusing, Chamberlain's deft touch and distinctive voicing keeps the reader perfectly grounded.

The blurb:
A beloved daughter. A devastating choice. And now there's no going back.

Four years ago, nineteen-year-old Travis Brown made a choice: to raise his newborn daughter on his own. While most of his friends were out partying and meeting girls, Travis was at home, changing diapers and worrying about keeping food on the table. But he's never regretted his decision. Bella is the light of his life. The reason behind every move he makes. And so far, she is fed. Cared for. Safe.

But when Travis loses his construction job and his home, the security he's worked so hard to create for Bella begins to crumble...….

Then a miracle. A job in Raleigh has the power to turn their fortunes around. It has to. But when Travis arrives in Raleigh, there is no job, only an offer to participate in a onetime criminal act that promises quick money and no repercussions.

With nowhere else to turn, Travis must make another choice for his daughter's sake. Even if it means he might lose her.
I always enjoy Chamberlain's stories.  There's frequently an element of Southern Gothic to the family relations, and the manipulations that one generation inflicts on the next.  Chunks of the plot and character motivations derive from these manipulations, often rippling down multiple generations.

The Good Father is a fast-paced and absorbing read with three different threads of story.  In the first half, the characters and their situations draw you in and make you wonder how they will touch each other.  In the second half, their interconnections become clear and a suspenseful storyline accelerates the page-turning until the very end.  Among other things, it is also a timely depiction of how close to the edge many of us live in these economic times - one piece of bad luck away from disaster.

Daddy Issues
Unsurprisingly, given the title, the characters and plot in this story are strongly influenced by the father relationships that each are involved in.

...Annnnnnnnnnnd I just deleted a long boring middle-school style analysis of the father-theme for each of the main characters... seriously, you don't need that from me.  The remarkable thing about this story is how the characters circle back on their own themes, finding echoes of their own situations and decisions and new perspectives, which give them the strength to break out of bad patterns.  At times, the coincidence factor here was pretty high; some might find it a bit heavy-handed, but it made for very tidy resolutions.

Bottom Line
A great addition to your beach bag or summer reading list, The Good Father is a page-turning, feel-good read with characters that you'll want to have over for a barbeque.  I felt like I was friends with the three protagonists at the end.

Around the Blogosphere
I received a review copy of this book in return for a fair review.  Please check out what other folks are saying on the Blog Tour sponsored by the tireless folks at Media Muscle.  And if you've got questions that only the author can answer, you will have your chance on May 31, at the online event here:

To participate, you'll need an account at BookTrib, and they offer this tip:
The day of the event: Login to your BookTrib account a few minutes before the chat. On the homepage, click on Diane’s picture. This will take you into the chat. You will see Diane live with a text box located on the right side of your screen. Just type in your questions or comments into the text box and enjoy the chat!


Pam (@iwriteinbooks) said...

I just got this one and I'm more excited to read it after reading your review. :O)

Nicola O. said...

I really liked it, Pam, hope you do too!

Stephanie @ Read In a Single Sitting said...

I enjoyed this one, too--Chamberlain's characters are always excellent. I think her psychology background has been very helpful in getting into her characters' heads and teasing out their fears and motivations.


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