cover image Daughter


Claudia Dey. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27 (272p) ISBN 978-0-374-60970-2

In Dey’s obtuse, melodramatic latest (following Heartbreaker), playwright and actor Mona Dean must deal with her egocentric father, Paul, whose novel Daughter made him famous. Paul, divorced from Mona’s mother, has multiple affairs and makes Mona his confidante, but when news gets out of his relationship with his publicist, Mona’s stepmother, Cherry, is furious, and Mona’s half sister, Eva, cuts off contact with Mona for keeping Paul’s secret. As Mona and Paul meet at restaurants, drink wine, and pore over his confessions, she mourns her lost connection with Eva while facing her own demons: a rape in theater school by a now-famous director that still haunts her, guilt over stealing her now-husband from her best friend, and a stillbirth that leads to a suicide attempt and psychiatric supervision. Mona finds salvation, of sorts, in writing: “I wrote as an act of conversion, of taking the severed parts of my life and assembling them, and in assembling them into a new form, separate from me, they lost their power over me.” Dey’s mostly flat, unvaried prose style becomes tiring, and despite a satisfying ending, readers will likely run out of steam before they make it there. This disappoints. Agent: Martha Webb, Cooke McDermid. (Sept.)