cover image My Father's Geisha

My Father's Geisha

James Gordon Bennett, Author Delacorte Press $17.95 (165p) ISBN 978-0-385-30097-1

The fortunes of a peripatetic Army major's family during the 1960s and '70s are detailed in this finely nuanced first novel. From military bases in Nevada and Louisiana to a temporary home in L.A., Cora, Teddy and their mother are flung about by the career of their charismatic but elusive father, hurt by his long absences and suspected infidelities. We watch an uneasy truce between husband and wife through the eyes of sensitive Teddy; his brilliant, eccentric older sister covers her pain with sarcastic wit while their mother, at first spunkily defiant, eventually retreats into hypochondria and depression. As young adults, Cora and Teddy find a measure of stability, but after their mother's death they are stunned to learn that their father has married an Asian woman he has been involved with since his service overseas. It's only one of many secrets he has kept from them, and Teddy must come to terms with both his unwanted new stepmother and his father's deception. Bennett demonstrates a wonderful ear for dialogue and a storyteller's sure touch, and despite a slight loss of momentum halfway through, the novel is a funny, perceptive and painful look at the difficulties of family relationships. (June)