Review of The Mistress’s Daughter by A.M. Homes
My wife recommended this book. It’s not one I would have picked out. It’s a story about the author whose biological mother comes looking for her after giving her up for adoption some thirty plus years earlier.
This is one of those stories that began as an article and was then expanded into book length form. It came across to me as being padded and it’s not that long of a book. There are no chapter breaks. The book is basically broken into two parts: the first part covers the time of the author first learning that her biological mother is looking for her to her mother’s death; the second part of the book deals with the author’s genealogy search for more information about her past.
The first part of the book is the most compelling. Most stories like this have been told from the perspective of the child in search of their real parents. They don’t always work out. And here, too, the reunion is not a happy one. The author at first wants to keep her distance from both her biological mother and father. But her curiosity draws her in closer. She paints her biological parents as being needy, selfish, uncaring, paranoid, and self centered. And maybe they were. But the author doesn’t seem all that caring herself. She does, however, deserve credit for the truthfulness of her writing.
The second part of the book was much less compelling for me. Once the mother passes away, the author is left with trying to piece together her past. She does this mostly through Internet sites dealing with genealogy. What was fascinating to the author is not necessarily fascinating to the reader. But she had a book to write and she had to say something.
She eventually gets back at her father by conducting a fake interrogation. She puts down in several pages the many questions she has for him that she knows he is not willing to answer. Once again it’s good therapy for the author but only moderately interesting to the reader. My wife loved the book. It was okay for me.