HER FATHER'S HOUSE
Delacorte Hardcover, 1992 Dell Mass Market, December 2003
Reviewed by Sissy Jacobson
Donald J. Wolfe is an up and coming attorney in a prestigious international law firm located in New York City, when he meets Lillian Morris, a legal secretary in another firm. Beautiful and vivacious, Lillian soon has Donald wrapped around her little finger. He is a man who works hard, desires peace, and is satisfied with his life. However, he is immediately captivated with Lillian and begins to make changes. He starts by moving into a nicer apartment, which he has Lillian decorate. They marry and Donald is happy. He fails to notice the coolness his boss displays toward Lillian, and the strain between his other attorney friends and Lillian. He does find it strange that Lillian refuses to tell him anything about her family or talk about where she is from. She wants no guests at the wedding, but Donald insists on a reception where he invites his friends and coworkers. They aren't married long when Donald begins to disapprove of Lillian's actions. However, time and time again, he makes excuses for her. Little by little, the marriage begins to fray. Lillian is climbing the social ladder, making friends with wealthy, party people, people whose pictures grace the society pages on a regular basis.
After Lillian becomes pregnant, the marriage disintegrates rapidly, and Lillian asks for a divorce. Donald, who has had enough by now, grants it. Lillian moves in with her former employer, a very wealthy man in his sixties. She has the baby, names her Bettina, turns her over to the nanny, and continues her wild life. Donald sees Bettina on Sundays when the nanny takes her to the park. Donald is soon made aware that in the midst of opulence, his baby girl is neglected, and Lillian's second marriage is falling apart. She now has another, wealthier man waiting in the wings and begins to talk of moving to France with him. Donald dares not let her leave the country with the baby, yet he knows he will never be granted full custody. What will he do in order to keep his daughter safe?
HER FATHER'S HOUSE is a story of the twenty-five year odyssey which Donald, who changes his name to James Fuller, takes in order to raise his daughter in a healthy, happy environment. He changes Bettina's name to Laura, and she grows up believing she is Laura Fuller, whose mother is dead.
Once I became accustomed to Belva Plain's style, which is reminiscent of books written when people spent more time reading, I thoroughly enjoyed HER FATHER'S HOUSE. Using more narration than dialogue, the story is told in three parts, beginning in 1968 and ending sometime around 1993. It is written from Donald's point of view, then much later changes to Laura's point of view. The characters are believable and descriptions vivid. Suspense kept me glued to the book, and emotionally involved with the characters. If you want a change of pace and a really good read, I highly recommend HER FATHER'S HOUSE by Belva Plain. Bit by bit, Ms. Plain slowly unravels the yarn, filling in all the spaces yet not bogging down, and brings this story to a satisfying conclusion.
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