Working for Love

Tessa Dahl, Author Delacorte Press $16.95 (185p) ISBN 978-0-440-50114-5
Described as ``semi-autobiographical,'' this debut novel by the daughter of actress Patricia Neal and writer Roald Dahl seems more factual than fictional, recapitulating as it does the three tragedies that struck the Dahl family in stunning succession. More importantly, though, it reveals the author as a capable writer with a strong, distinctive voice. In short, intense, alternating chapters that are a cri de coeur, narrator/protagonist Molly tells of her efforts to please her dominating, manipulative husband, and, in flashbacks, recalls her earlier efforts to win love from her equally cold, controlling father. The tragic events she recallsthe accident that left her brother brain-damaged, the sudden death of her adored sister, her mother's strokeare played out against Molly's attempts to become important in her parents' eyes and, later, to deflect her husband's cruelty. Her accusations against Jack, a marital monster extraordinaire, unfortunately become a diatribe, a crescendo of outrage and pain. Molly's agonizing journey to self-confidence is more credible than her continuing, obsessive need for her father's approval; at the end of the novel, she still calls him ``that giant of a man, my love, my life.'' Surprisingly, in view of the bitterness Dahl expresses, the book's dedication reads: ``To my father.'' (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-440-20565-4
Hardcover - 190 pages - 978-1-85089-319-6
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