cover image Daddy


Janet Inglis. Pocket Books, $22 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-88747-6

Some readers may feel outrage and others admiration, but none is likely to be ambivalent about this disturbing debut novel. The graphic, sometimes violent and always frightening sexual encounters between Olivia Beckett and photographer Nick Winter explode from what is an otherwise comfortably unremarkable story of divorce, remarriage and coming of age in a middle-class British family. To Olivia, Nick is ``the most truly wicked, terrifying person she had ever known and she loved him utterly.'' But Olivia is only 15, and Nick is her mother's live-in lover. He pursues Olivia much as an animal does its prey--in this case, prey that is increasingly willing to be taunted and then captured. Between sexual knockdowns, Olivia carries on with life as a teenager. She worries about her weight, takes violin lessons, hates her father's new wife, has sex in a cemetery. Unlike Josephine Hart in her comparable Damage , however, in which sexually destructive actions merited consequences, Inglis seems reluctant to call any of her characters to account. While such moral open-endedness will intrigue many, others may have the unpleasant sensation of finding themselves unwilling ringside voyeurs at a particularly nasty sexual circus. (Aug . )