Daughters by Florence Osmund
Twenty-four-year-old Marie Marchetti has just experienced a life-altering revelation—the identity of her real father. As she packs for her first visit with him and his family, she wonders how her life is about to change, how they will receive her, and what she will learn about her own identity.
A lot happens as a result of Marie’s Thanksgiving visit, and in her search for peace and truth in her life, she quickly learns that disparate lives can converge and interact in profound and surprising ways. But ironically the most consequential outcome of her visit unexpectedly grows out of an encounter with a twelve-year-old girl named Rachael.
I started on the middle part of the book on Saturday afternoon, and in between all my evening duties I kept coming back, unable to put this down. It is now near dawn on Sunday, and, I FINISHED “Daughters”!
This was one of The Sweetest, Gentlest, Kindest stories I have read in a very long while. I feel ‘changed’, somehow, for having experienced the reading of this family’s story. I started my introduction to Florence Osmund’s works with “Coach House”, so, naturally, I HAD to pick up “Daughters” right away. I must say, I am ever so glad I found her books and will be looking forward to her next works.
I read a few of the other reviewer’s comments wherein the commenters did not like Ms. Osmund’s writing style, her way of narration & describing what is going on instead of simply using the voices of the characters, themselves, as the main means of filling us, the readers, in one what was taking place. I feel a need to address that train of thought in order to give the fairest review possible.
I believe I may understand the discomfort by some readers at this author’s writing style for I felt twinges of it myself, both in this book and in her first one, The Coach House. It took me until about midway into the book, Daughters, to realize what caused this… Ms. Osmund’s style fit the time of the book, a simpler time than what we are now in. There was no MTV and certainly no “Twerking” going on on TV, no Youtube, no home computers during the historic times of the two book’s period, which began in the 1940’s. In film and on TV of that age, producers, directors and writers depending on lighting, what was happening in ‘Nature’, and movie sets to create their art; they did not have the computer graphics complete with extravagant lighting available today. I am certain, though, had I lived during that time period I would have felt as if I were in a very modern time, so much more modern that the period preceding it, when families would use candles and oil for lighting at night, had ‘outhouses’ for a restroom and cooked with fire.
If a reader is Used to reading more, share I say, ‘modernized’ books, where everything happens F-A-S-T, this book may seem to be a drag… If, though, the potential reader, and even those who have read it once, would go back to reread it again and allow themselves the luxury of doing so in a ‘mellow’ frame of mind, I foresee all readers benefiting from the experience. This book BEGS for the reader to set their troubles and the FAST pace of today’s world aside and to simply soak in the era the book was written in . It quietens the soul, and politely Demands one to let loose of being in a HURRY to be able to thoroughly enjoy every exquisite moment of the reading experience. To do anything less is to do a grave injustice to the book, and to yourself.
Ms. Osmund takes great care to take the reader back in time, not only the time frame of the story, itself, but of the preceding years of members of the story line’s roots, their heritage. In this masterpiece, you will become introduced to periods of America’s history when many, if not most, were less than kind to anyone whose skin tone was not ‘pale’ enough to suit the needs of ‘High Society’. If you are like me, you may find yourself feeling anguish right along with the main character, Marie, as she is aroused from her previously ‘secure’ life into an awareness of how ‘negro people’ were being treated around her as she awakens to the prejudices of that period; things that until she was in her mid-twenties she had not been aware of. The fact that she has olive skin and was raised by an Italian mother in a ‘white neighborhood, went to ‘white’ schools, worked in a major department store where a non-caucasian person could Never have reached her status was something she had no reason to have given thought to, until… (Read to find out ‘why’!)
You also will be shown examples of the music of the time period, of Artists, of men and women who are nothing short of great role models, of books written during the 1940’s and before, and of the movies that came out during that time period. If so inclined, a reader could take this book, and it’s prequel book, and quite literally use them as a historical learning experience. Filled within these pages are pieces of history, done so in such a soothing and gentle frame that some readers may actually miss the significance of the experience.
If it is too much to ask of the reader to slow their world down in order to appreciate the extreme care and crafting that so obviously went into the making of this novel, you will most definitely not get as much out of it. If you’re in too big of a hurry to get from point “A” to point “B” to stop and smell the roses, to enjoy admiring a glorious sunset or a night sky filled with the twinkling of stars (or, absent of them and filled with the darkness only a cloud-filled, moonless night away from city lights came bring), to sit for an evening with a friend and contemplate what it Means to be who you are and to wonder how can you become “more’, to FEEL, alongside the book’s characters, the gentle breeze off of a lake, to hear the waves and taste the night air, perhaps then, you might be better suited to a more F-A-S-T paced book.
As for this reader, I was enriched by the experience of having met the characters in this book and needed, although I was not quite aware until I realized what was happening to me, the opportunity to SLOW my own pace at life down to a more manageable speed. It is, I am certain, a feeling that I will carry with me for decades to come.
PS: I feel like going through my cloud and dumping every F-A-S-T paced novel I own, but I won’t, for my tastes are so varied than I will be able to go back to those again. Besides, to do so would be to return to living in the FAST LANE, and impulsively… Instead, I will keep THIS book, and it’s companion book, handy, for when the world gets in too damn big of a hurry for me, again.
I thank you, dear Author, for enriching my life by slowing me down.
Florence Osmund’s DAUGHTERS, is a well written sequel to her first novel, THE COACH HOUSE. Osmund’s writing style has developed in this second novel. This book could easily be a stand-alone novel, as it is not dependent on the original story for character development.
Osmund does not weary the reader with tiresome repetition of the earlier book’s details; rather, she accomplishes these reminders subtly in conversations between characters.
Marie is the female protagonist of both books. An unusual background presents us with a well-educated single woman in her mid-twenties with her own business, living in the growing post-war economy. The time period is well researched and replicated by the author, and the reader is comfortably introduced to the issue of bi-racial identity.
Civil rights, gender roles and political postures are carefully, realistically and sensitively present in this story. Marie grows through each experience her new family has offered. This novel could well fit into a “coming of age” literature syllabus for young adults.
I unequivocally recommend this author’s books for young teens and adults who want to learn more about the American life in the mid-twentieth century. There is something for every age to clarify in this story. Introspective thoughts cannot help but surface after following Marie along her path.
Five stars for content, style and value.