cover image THE LONG GOODBYE


Patti Davis, . . Knopf, $20 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-679-45092-4

Ronald Reagan's youngest daughter, Davis is best known as a peace activist who forcefully disagreed with her father's policies. But this graceful memoir demonstrates that she is also a gifted writer. The focus of the journal-style book is her father's descent into Alzheimer's disease, but Davis deftly weaves family history and childhood memories into the surprisingly vibrant fabric of her story. The most startling aspect of this effort is its universality. Readers whose fathers have never held an elected office higher than president of their high school class will still be able to relate to these musings from a daughter who remembers her dad best for their ordinary moments together: swimming, riding horses or chatting about the flight paths of birds. Even though Davis calls Alzheimer's a "haunting presence in these pages," her message of love, loyalty and forgiveness manages to overshadow this "relentless pirate" of a disease. She recalls Reagan's peaceful acceptance of news that his beloved horse, Nancy D, had died: "His first response to death was to remember the beauty of the life that had passed. The memory comes when I find myself wondering, Where are you?" Davis's thoughtful and honest reflections make her father come to life again and should foster remembrances for readers as well. 2 photos. Agent, Don Epstein at Greater Talent Management. (Nov. 16)

Forecast: The book's timing—after the flood of Reagan books that immediately followed his death; right before the holiday season—is excellent, which should result in robust sales. 100,000-copy first printing .