What Is Left the Daughter

By Howard Norman
(Mariner Books, Paperback, 9780547521824, 264pp.)

Publication Date: May 2011

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Description

Howard Norman, widely regarded as one of this country’s finest novelists, returns to the mesmerizing fictional terrain of his major books—The Bird Artist, The Museum Guard, and The Haunting of L—in this erotically charged and morally complex story.

Seventeen-year-old Wyatt Hillyer is suddenly orphaned when his parents, within hours of each other, jump off two different bridges—the result of their separate involvements with the same compelling neighbor, a Halifax switchboard operator and aspiring actress. The suicides cause Wyatt to move to small-town Middle Economy to live with his uncle, aunt, and ravishing cousin Tilda.

Setting in motion the novel’s chain of life-altering passions and the wartime perfidy at its core is the arrival of the German student Hans Mohring, carrying only a satchel. Actual historical incidents—including a German U-boat’s sinking of the Nova Scotia–Newfoundland ferry Caribou, on which Aunt Constance Hillyer might or might not be traveling—lend intense narrative power to Norman’s uncannily layered story.

Wyatt’s account of the astonishing—not least to him— events leading up to his fathering of a beloved daughter spills out twenty-one years later. It’s a confession that speaks profoundly of the mysteries of human character in wartime and is directed, with both despair and hope, to an audience of one.

An utterly stirring novel. This is Howard Norman at his celebrated best.




About the Author
HOWARD NORMAN is a three-time winner of National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, and a winner of the Lannan Award for fiction. His novels The Northern Lights and The Bird Artist were both nominated for a National Book Award. He is also author of the novels The Museum Guard, The Haunting of L, and What Is Left the Daughter.


Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What Is Left the Daughter begins with a love triangle.  How many other triangular relationships appear in the book?  Why, do you think?

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