cover image Alias Madame Doubtfire

Alias Madame Doubtfire

Anne Fine. Joy Street Books, $12.95 (199pp) ISBN 978-0-316-28313-7

When Miranda decides to hire a housekeeper to care for her three children, her ex-husband Daniel, an unemployed actor, disguises himself as a woman and gets the job. Daniel is happy with this arrangement: he doesn't do much work, and he gets to see his children every day. But the kids find that seeing their father dressed as a huge be-turbanned woman is both disturbing and confusing. They worry that their mother will see through Daniel's masquerade. The children's discomfort reaches a peak when Daniel cajoles his ex-wife into confessing her candid feelings about their failed marriage. Eventually, Miranda discovers that her wonderful housekeeper is really her hated ex-husband, and this unhappy family is forced to work out a more honest way to live. Had the children been more fully developed characters, capable of experiencing a full range of emotions, this contrived plot would have been easier to believe. With its focus on the difficulties of a pair of self-absorbed adults, the children's perspectives are secondary and almost forgotten; this story's emotional underpinnings will seem all too familiar to those youngsters whose lives have been adversely affected by the immaturity of the adults around them. Ages 12-up. (May)