readingtrance

book reviews by Althea

The Daughters – Adrienne Celt ***

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The Daughters: A Novel
The Daughters: A Novel by Adrienne Celt

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oddly, my second book about an opera singer that I’ve read this year, following Alexander Chee’s historical melodrama: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show…

This one, however, is a contemporary tale. Lulu, the singer, has recently given birth to a daughter, and is still physically recovering from the ordeal. She’s also having quite a lot of stress regarding her secret: the girl is not her husband’s child. Does he suspect? Should she tell him? On top of that, there are the questions likely shared by all new mothers: how does the existence of this new person change me? Who IS this neonate individual? And, one thought leading to another: Who am I? And who was my mother, and hers in turn?

Lulu’s childhood was one of a rift: Her mother, a jazz singer, was a wild and largely absent figure. Her grandmother filled her head with fanciful tales of family history, mixing fact with Polish folklore liberally, creating a mythic version of an escape from a war-torn country, the tragedy of lost family members, and a devil’s bargain that resulted in a curse that would carry down the generations, mother to daughter.

I have to admit that it was the folklore and the curse that brought me to the table. I stayed to savor the beautiful language – the writing here is lovely. However, the main focus of the book – as the title clearly implies – is motherhood and relationships between mothers and daughters, and I have to admit that the topic of becoming a mother is not one that enormously interests me. The drama between the main character and her husband also didn’t grab me at all. Others will naturally feel differently, I’m sure.
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