Saturday, May 21, 2011

Five best books about fathers and daughters

Alexandra Styron is the author of the novel All the Finest Girls. A graduate of Barnard College and the MFA program at Columbia University, she has contributed to several anthologies as well as The New Yorker, the New York Times, Avenue, Real Simple, and Interview, among other publications.

She is the youngest daughter of William Styron, author of Sophie’s Choice, Lie Down in Darkness, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Confessions of Nat Turner.

Alexandra Styron's new book is Reading My Father: A Memoir.

One title on her list of the five best stories of fathers and daughters, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
Silas Marner
by George Eliot (1861)

Was there ever a better advertisement for the joys of late fatherhood than the endearing union at the heart of George Eliot's fable-like novel? When first we meet Silas Marner, he is a young village weaver with enterprise and promise. But then a friend's betrayal strips him of his reputation, his livelihood and his girl, and the bewildered Marner must relocate, settling in an isolated cottage outside the hamlet of Raveloe. There he passes the years, known to the townspeople as a "half-crazy miser," working his loom by day and obsessively counting the gold coins he has earned by evening's firelight. "It was pleasant to him to feel them in his palm and look at their bright faces," Eliot writes, but the coins are a paltry substitute for "the life of belief and love from which he had been cut off." When the weaver undergoes an ironic reversal of fortune—the gold disappears, an orphaned baby girl materializes—he is rewarded with not only familial love but redemption: treasures that, naturally, money could never buy.
Read about another novel on the list.

Silas Marner appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best misers in literature.

Also see Alexander Waugh's five best list of books on father-son relationships.

--Marshal Zeringue