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What Is Left the Daughter


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About the Author

HOWARD NORMAN is a three-time winner of National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, and a winner of the Lannan Award for fiction. His novels The Northern Lights and The Bird Artist were both nominated for National Book Awards. He is also author of the novels The Museum Guard, The Haunting of L, What Is Left the Daughter, Next Life Might Be Kinder, and My Darling Detective. He divides his time between East Calais, Vermont, and Washington, D.C.


Set in World War II Nova Scotia during the German U-boat invasion, two-time National Book Award nominee Norman's epistolary novel tells the story of Wyatt Hillyer, tragedy magnet. When Wyatt's parents commit suicide on the same night upon discovering they are in love with the same woman, Wyatt moves in with his extended family and becomes embroiled in his own love triangle. Historical events add tension to this muted tale, and though Norman's slow and meticulous storytelling may entrance some listeners, Wyatt's passivity is positively frustrating. Actor/Audie Award winner Bronson Pinchot's performance is appropriately flat and unemotional, faultless but failing to build interest. Recommended only for libraries with a strong literary fiction listenership. [The Houghton Harcourt hc was described as "a haunting novel not soon to be forgotten," LJ 7/10.-Ed.]-Carly M. Wiggins, Division of Multicultural Affairs, Western Michigan Univ., Kalamazoo (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

"The quiet power of this book comes on slowly and unrelentingly, offering a mesmerizing look into one man's past. Creating one of the most captivating and effective uses of the retrospective letter format in recent memory, Norman's prose is understated, eloquent and perfectly chosen, and his novel paints a picture of one man's legacy that will not soon be lost."
--BookPage"The latest from master of precision Howard Norman is again set in the gray majesty of Nova Scotia, where 17-year-old orphan Wyatt Hillyer moves in with his devoted aunt and uncle and their adopted daughter, Tilda, the love of stoic Wyatt's life. The ravages of Hitler and his dastardly German U-boats lurking beneath Canadian waters hit their home hard. In What Is Left the Daughter, Norman writes with spare elegance and dry humor, and the extraordinary emotional power of his slim new novel is earned with authentic grace. Grade: A"
--Entertainment Weekly"Fans of Howard Norman's THE BIRD ARTIST will recognize the venue and the oddball characters in the author's beautiful new novel, WHAT IS LEFT THE DAUGHTER....Norman turns a tiny town into an entire world in which even the most heinous sins can--almost--be forgiven."
O, The Oprah Magazine"Howard Norman has captured the fear and suspicion that World War II brought to the East Coast perfectly, as news reports circulate and the silent and spooky threat of the U-boats is ever-present....Norman also captures the speech and texture of life in Nova Scotia with gentle humor and deft description...No improvement needed [for WHAT IS LEFT THE DAUGHTER]; it is perfect."
--Shelf Awareness"[A]n expertly crafted tale of love during wartime...Norman's writing is effortless, and his plot is grand in scope but studded with moments of tenderness and intimacy that help crystallize the anxiety and weariness of life on the home front. That Norman is able to achieve so much in 250 pages is a testament to his mastery of the craft."
--Publishers Weekly, STARRED"Norman (best known for The Bird Artist, 1994) scores again with this gripping account of a family ripped apart by obsession and murder...It is extraordinary that a story which carries such a weight of sorrow is never depressing, but Norman the master craftsman pulls it off." --Kirkus, STARRED"Norman's piquant insights into life's wildness, human eccentricity, and love's maddening persistence are matched by rhapsodic and profound descriptions of everything from perfectly baked scones to pelting rain and the devouring sea, while anguish is tempered with humor, thanks to rapid-fire banter and marvelously spiky characters."
--Booklist, STARRED"Howard Norman's new novel, WHAT IS LEFT THE DAUGHTER, is the best story of love in the time of war I've ever read. And yes, that includes COLD MOUNTAIN AND A FAREWELL TO ARMS....WHAT IS LEFT THE DAUGHTER affirms what many of Howard Norman's readers have known since he published his magical first novel, THE NORTHERN LIGHTS. Norman is most certainly one of America's three or four best novelists, with a uniquely wise and tolerant vision of his characters and all human beings everywhere. So let's not mince words. WHAT IS LEFT THE DAUGHTER is a literary masterpiece that will, I guarantee it, live on in your heart, and mine, forever." --Howard Mosher,"Howard Norman is a master storyteller, packing provocative details into virtually every sentence of this short, but hardly slight, novel....What is left the daughter--and the reader--here is the gift of one man's utterly human, heartbreaking life story.""This saga of sorrow, love, and a father's desire to meet his grown daughter displays power...moving" --Boston Globe

"You lean in, trying to catch every word, lulled by [Norman's] voice as he describes the most ordinary lives that just happen to be punctuated by macabre accidents. . . . Norman offers a kind of rough-hewn poetry throughout [with an] ardor that shimmers just below the surface." --Washington Post
"Reminiscent of a classic Robert Frank black-and-white photograph, this candid, everyday portrait discloses intricate webs of wistfulness and resignation. Norman raises absorbing moral quandaries, particularly about the possibilities of forgiveness...The epistolary form of this novel is a cri de coeur from an author faithful to the printed word in a time of promiscuous texting, friending and tweeting. Students today who can't write in cursive are able to e-mail across the world. The reflective, personal storytelling in "What Is Left the Daughter" reminds us of the potential beauty, intimacy and wisdom offered by two endangered genres

--the letter and the novel." --
Los Angeles Times

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