True entertainment: The Good Father

I’ll admit that in the past I’ve steered clear of most genre lit. I’ve been a bit sceptical, about the obvious focus on ‘entertainment’ and the general popularity of writers like Picoult etc. They seemed to me a little bit mainstream, to be a little too matter-of-fact, even a little tele-movie for my liking… but I’ll be honest, I hadn’t read any and as such I’m not sure what I was basing these assumptions on.

As you know, this past year and a half I’ve challenged myself to read differently… more widely, and this has in turn help me to lighten up a bit and embrace a lot of different types of writing and writers, popular or otherwise.

As a result, I’ve recently enjoyed my first Jodi Picoult, Lone Wolf, I was drawn in by Carol Marinelli’s Putting Alice Back Together and most recently, I was completely sucked in to Diane Chamberlain’s The Good Father (Harlequin).

Described as; ‘Essential reading for Jodi Picoult fans’ Chamberlain’s newest novel is about a young father, Travis, and the difficult decisions he is forced to make:

“Four years ago, nineteen-year-old Travis Brown made the choice to raise his newborn daughter on his own. While most of his friends were out partying and meeting girls, Travis was at home, changing diapers and worrying about keeping food on the table. But he’s never regretted his decision. Bella is the light of his life. The reason behind every move he makes. And so far, she is fed. Cared for. Safe. But when Travis loses his construction job and his home, the security he’s worked so hard to create for Bella begins to crumble…”

The choice of main protagonist, and his subsequent dilemma is gripping. Travis is very likeable, honourable and a father with the best of intentions. This set-up is really interesting and a nice change from so many stories where fathers are cast as cads, as disengaged or at the very least ineffectual in their children’s lives. Travis, on the other hand, shows a love for his daughter Bella that will see him do anything. And of course, that’s where his trouble begins.

In addition to Travis and Bella, Erin’s role in this accidental adventure is also an important one. Her guilt and overwhelming grief at the loss of her daughter is palpable, and provides Chamberlain a vehicle to explore the deep horror of loosing a child; the very thing that Travis is trying so hard not to do.

The story itself is pretty complex, but the storytelling is clear and tidy. It’s not wordy or overly sentimental, a very interesting study of the complexity of peoples lives as they accept their responsibilities, question loyalties and make difficult, life-altering decisions.

All of these things put together saw me read this novel quickly, hardly putting it down. It made me sad, worried, happy and reflective. I think too, I’ll be going back to take a look at some of Diane Chamberlain’s other titles, particularly when I’m after some bookish entertainment.

Has anyone else read any Chamberlain? What did you think? Do you have a favourite?

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Tomorrow, an invite extended to you all… stay tuned!

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