Read A Bigamist's Daughter by Alice McDermott Online


ELizabeth Connelly sits in her office at a New York vanity press watching the world - of struggles, passion, pain and love - spin around her. Then a young writer comes to her with a novel about a man who loves more than one woman. And suddenly she is awakened from her urban professional slumber....

Title : A Bigamist's Daughter
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780747568254
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 573 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

A Bigamist's Daughter Reviews

  • Megan Baxter
    2019-02-05 05:44

    I've read a few later Alice McDermott books, ones that centre more around Irish-American families, and while I can't say I adored them, they certainly struck me more than this book, one of her first, if not her very first, novels. A Bigamist's Daughter, well, I just can't quite figure out what this book is supposed to be about, or even how it is about it. It's fairly mediocre.Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

  • Laurel-Rain
    2019-02-15 00:40

    In a novel that dissects, deconstructs and recreates the fabric of life, love and literature, the author spotlights the world of publishing; the mythology of love, the elusiveness of the love object – all as the centerpiece of this work – formulate the basis for this story.We begin with Elizabeth Connelly, a single woman living in New York – some time in the twentieth century, before computers or the current Internet generation – and discover her real life as an “editor-in-chief” at what is known in that day as a “vanity press.” She meets her potential authors, praises their work – even when it is less than stellar – and signs them to contracts. They pay their fee and dream their dreams.But one day she meets an author – Tupper Daniels, a southern gentleman – and in helping him “create an ending” for his unfinished manuscript, she stumbles down a path of exploration that leads her into the surreal world of elusive fathers – traveling fathers like her own – who are leading secret lives. Questioning all the stories told her by her mother, and examining her own tendency to tell tales – even create myths – about her own past loves, she begins to understand that fantasies, illusions and love myths have a life of their own, flourishing because of the necessity to preserve those very myths.Fascinating portrayal of love, literature, and the elusive nature of dreams, “A Bigamist’s Daughter” is a memorable novel that earns five stars.

  • Meagan
    2019-02-06 00:00

    I have read many books were I didn't really like it, but was still able to appreciate it and finish it. This was different because I just didn't like it at all. (I did finish it though)I feel like the whole book should be read with melancholy music in the background...imagine it and that's how the whole book is like...except a thousand times more pretentious. The main character of Elizabeth lives her whole life with herself as the tortured female lead in her own mental drama. She manipulates the people at work and in her personal life. She is an editor-in-chief at a vanity press and comes to enjoy the manipulation she doles out to people who believe her when she says their book is the stuff of great literary fiction. The love story between her and aspiring author Tupper Daniels is crap. They hit all the points but there is no sincerity on either end...I think that's the way it's supposed to be for her...but I don't know if it was purposeful for him. Flat out, I didn't believe it from the beginning. I kept expecting something to be reveled that would explain everything, and it never came. I think what was supposed to pass as an explanation was just plain I am supposed to read between the lines, but they criss cross. In the end I thought this novel was pretentious, poorly executed, and way too reliant on melodrama.

  • Dan Friedman
    2019-01-19 07:03

    3.5 stars. Alice McDermott’s A Bigamist’s Daughter is her first novel, Alice McDermott before she became ALICE MCDERMOTT. Its themes foreshadow McDermott’s later novels: Catholicism, moral ambiguity, absent fathers. Its style also foreshadows McDermott’s later novels: emotional precision, unresolved ending, and movement backwards and forwards over time. But A Bigamist’s Daughter is wordier in places than McDermott’s later novels; its most believable and affecting character is Elizabeth, the young editor at its center; and McDermott portrays her other main characters— Elizabeth’s lover and Elizabeth’s mother—from the outside in, rather than convince me of them emotionally from the inside out. The central mysteries at the core of A Bigamist’s Daughter—just what was Elizabeth’s father and why did her mother stay with him—also felt somewhat unconvincing. I was left not understanding why. Why was Elizabeth’s father so loved? Why did Elizabeth’s mother remain married to him? A Bigamist’s Daughter is well worth reading for McDermott completists and admirers of such McDermott novels as The Ninth Hour and Charming Billy. But I wouldn’t recommend starting your McDermott reading with A Bigamist’s Daughter.

  • Sterlingcindysu
    2019-01-22 03:42

    3.5 rounded up. The spoiler is, there isn't any real bigamist in the book--perhaps the father was (a traveling "government" worker) but there's no proof and no other family. The daughter and mother never really discuss it, which is one of the points made from a man writing a book about a bigamist--how the wives never really ask, so the man never has to lie. Perhaps he just liked to travel, just as the missing father image in A Glass Menagerie who was a "telephone worker who fell in love with long-distance." The writer lays out the philosophy that a bigamist is a true romantic because he falls in love again and again, and wants to commit, vs. just having an affair. The best part for me was when it was discussed that perhaps a woman (the grandmother) may have been the bigamist and the writer just dismisses it out of hand--that all his lofty arguments about a bigamist only holds true for men and women can't reach that level. I also liked it when a woman pointed out that one "commits" bigamy, but you don't "commit" monogamy or marriage. The basic plot of an editor working at a vanity press was really interesting and Elizabeth, the main character, is a romantic vision in her own right. She loved so much once that he couldn't measure up to her ideals, so she left him. As good an excuse as any!

  • Anabelle
    2019-01-24 05:58

    I have read a few other Alice McDermott novels with admiration, but if A Bigamist's Daughter had been my introduction, I would have stopped reading her after this. I can see suggestions in this book of the writer that she becomes, even by her second novel, but in this book she does not seem to have a hold on her talent yet. It just doesn't come together. We spend too much time with secondary characters who drop away; there are too many scenes that don't seem to have much bearing on the whole. We never really get to know any of the characters. And though it's clear that McDermott consciously chose her points of view, I found her switching between third and first person to be disruptive. As one character says, "...some authors just take a while to get a following....some need to develop a momentum." This seems to be the case with Alice McDermott. But she does develop a "momentum" and her talent comes to the fore in her other books.

  • Mona
    2019-01-19 07:52

    I put down this book once because it was so boring. The second time I picked it up, I was determined to finish it...and it was still boring.I kept forgetting who the protagonist was and why she started a relationship with the writer. The plot made no sense and got interesting around page 200 for about 50 pages then petered right back out. This book was really disappointing considering her premise is interesting.

  • Sarah Gray
    2019-01-20 01:35

    This book may be interesting if you subscribe to a traditional view of gender and believe that women are innately tied to and less than men. Otherwise, avoid this.

  • Mike Cuthbert
    2019-01-30 01:48

    There is a lot of bigamy going on in this novel by outstanding talent Alice McDermott. First is the bigamy that marked the life of Elizabeth (the first person focus of the novel.) Her father was the possessor of more than one family and Elizabeth has been dealing with the conflicts her knowledge of her father’s predilections cause within her. Second, as “editor-in-chief” of the Vista Books vanity press in New York, her somnolent, desperately lonely life becomes invigorated by a young southern writer and his manuscript about a bigamist. As the “editor,” of a vanity press, her main duties include getting the client (author) to sign a contract that allows them to pay for the publishing of their own book, which Tupper Daniels wants to do. Unlike most of her clients, Tupper seems to understand the workings of a vanity press but still wants to work with Elizabeth since he cannot find an ending. Elizabeth being lonely and Tupper handsome and gracious, they soon end up as more than client and editor. Here’s where the multiple-level bigamy comes in: Elizabeth is still coping with the disappearance of Billy, a former boyfriend, whom she cannot get over. Throughout the book, Elizabeth tries to deal honestly with the love she still harbors for Billy and we begin to sense it is going to block everything for her. She and Tupper take some romantic trips and Tupper questions her deeply about the bigamist in his novel, her father and, eventually, her feelings about Billy. Elizabeth is dealing with the very likely fact that bigamists can be good people—that they can actually love at least two people equally—the situation Elizabeth finds herself in. It only complicates matters that relations with her mother became strained, in part because of her father’s actions, and her death is a turning point in the novel. Tupper is a very nice guy and a decent writer. He deeply loves Elizabeth but he still doesn’t have an ending for his novel. This is not an action-packed read. The dialogues are strained and subtle and profoundly complex, but that’s what makes it a fascinating read. A lot of your reaction to the book may depend on your attitudes toward love and marriage and bigamy, but that’s sort of the point! Though written over thirty years ago, the reader should not feel any time imperative pushing the actions along. The feelings and problems are infinite and McDermott wisely takes her time dealing with them. Nevertheless, this makes a terrific summer read.

  • Judy
    2019-01-31 01:52

    McDermott's debut. While it's well-written - her use of language is consistently exceptional, her plots are always interesting yet the turf is familiar and easy to identify for Catholic (especially Irish) Baby Boomers, and her characters subtly complex - this was not my favorite of her books. I guess I just didn't like Elizabeth - the aloofness, the lying, the casual love affairs - or her Mom, for some of the same reasons. The book was somewhat slow reading, possibly because I was not warming to the main character, who, at times, just didn't seem that deep or nice. The ending, while appropriate for the story, left me cold, just as Elizabeth did. I was disappointed in her detachment. On another note, written in 1982, the novel seems very dated in the description of a woman's role - dated even for the time period. This may reflect Elizabeth's unrealistic expectations for her life, and her hollowness. I did enjoy the leitmotif of the sham publishing house, and how it mirrors Elizabeth's false emotions, memories ad even dreams. Recommend, just because McDermott is so good, and others may have a different take on Elizabeth. This reader may be too Catholic and too traditional.

  • Sharon
    2019-01-22 01:37

    I read this slowly for a quilt of reasons, largely because it's so beautiful, quietly gorgeous, and partly because the central kernel is based on the self-pub company where I work (and where Alice McDermott worked thirty years before me). Despite the wry amusement of how nothing changes in certain corners of New York, this book is devastatingly lovely, honest, raw emotion tucked deep within the characters. One I will re-read over again in different seasons of life, and underline different passages every time.

  • Lucy Montgomery
    2019-02-04 23:50

    This was another book I found on my 2011 book-a-day calendar. I have read other books by Alice McDermott so I expected a melancholy vibe. In addition to this, however, I found the book moved slowly, the characters remained largely undeveloped and the plot lines were simply depressing. I do think Ms. McDermott is a good writer but find that this (and most of her other books that I've read) are just not enjoyable to read. I would not recommend it!

  • amber
    2019-01-28 03:44

    Man this book was hard to follow... I think there might've been an awesome story in there somewhere...if only I could've found it.

  • Kathleen
    2019-01-19 06:51

    A debut for Alice. Not the same quality as her later books. I had a difficult time getting into it, and staying into it.

  • Lisa
    2019-02-07 05:56

    The plot seemed contrived. Did not get the MO of the main character --

  • Joanna Dean
    2019-02-09 05:33

    I bought this book for a dollar from the owner of my liquor store who's ex-wife is the book business, because I'd heard of the author. It's her first book, and was written in 1982, and my copy is from 1999. I liked the overall style of the book, but I didn't really like any of the characters - everyone, damaged. I found the female lead especially shallow. I liked the story about her father, and I was so sure I knew the ending - and then - surprise! I didn't, and I liked that alot. I know may people think the book had no ending, or a poor ending, but I think that's just because they had already decided what the ending would be, and I applaud the author for not doing the obvious. I did have a problem with the time - it seemed that the present story took place in the late 80's, early 90's, but it felt like late 50's, early 60's to me; I was imagining her in a belted, full skirt that came below her knees and flats. Finally, the cover of my copy shows a woman sitting at a desk facing the wall - she would have been facing into the room as she dealt with clients all day. That to me is an Editor error, along with typos, which should only occur on Chinese take-out menus. I'll be checking out her other books.

  • Dottie Gray
    2019-01-29 01:58

    Though skillfully written, this book left me feeling very depressed. I finally concluded that it is really about lifelong imposters who are unable to reveal to others their true feelings, histories, and identities. They may have the capacity to love, but not to commit to to others on a permanent basis. They are able to convincingly express love, and in turn to appreciate that they are deeply cared for, but they feel compelled to move on to new relationships when their true identities are threatened by insight or discovery. Even more depressing, the book implies that this may be an inherited tendency.

  • Anara Guard
    2019-02-07 02:46

    An intricately woven tale, set in New York in the early 80s (some things seem quaint by now) in which the "editor" of a vanity press encounters an author whose unfinished novel disturbingly touches upon her own, hidden, life. McDermott switches between the present day and memories of her character's girlhood and relationship with her mother, slowly peeling away the layers to reveal unexpected discoveries.

  • Ann Gallo
    2019-01-25 06:46

    rather a strange story, interesting how the vanity press companies work, time line jumped around a bit; another jump in bed theme - guess I'm getting less tolerant of this action, pointless and adds nothing to the story.

  • Katherine
    2019-01-29 04:36

    An interesting look at how love works with different people...some if whom have had poor childhood experiences with love. The main character, Elizabeth, is ahead f her time, but right in sync with relationships of today. I love Alice McDermott's writing.

  • Barbara
    2019-02-12 01:01

    I loved Someone and looking forward to her new release. This was a quiet and strangely provocative read. I liked it.

  • Patricia
    2019-02-14 01:42

    I didn’t like any of the characters, and the story rang false.

  • Lawanda
    2019-01-24 05:37

    Audiobook performed by Tavia Gilbert

  • Amanda
    2019-02-10 02:43

    The protagonist of this book, Elizabeth Connelly, works for a Vanity Press in New York where she charms the money away from people who have committed their hearts to paper in the hopes of being published authors. She manipulates them into signing contracts by playing the part of the glamorous New York editor discovering the rare literary jewel that each of them believes in their gut that they are. Behind closed doors she is scornful and mocking of these people and takes pleasure in her skill at manipulating them. The thing is she lives her whole life in the same ingenuine way. She interacts with people by adopting a character that she deems appropriate and then just goes with it, keeping tight control over what she says and making sure never to reveal anything that comes too close to her genuine feelings. "Whenever she is uncomfortable, she finds an extreme and sticks with it. Extreme boredom, extreme interest, extreme weariness, pleasure, love. Her first month in high school she yawned so often that the nuns mentioned it to her mother." She is always casting herself as the heroine in a melodrama and pretending to feel deeply about something in order to test the people around her in some way-- possibly to see if they are intuitive enough to see through her act. She initiates an affair with one of authors that she meets through her job, setting herself up in a relationship where she is a powerful editor helping an incredible new author come up with the perfect ending for his groundbreaking novel, a relationship that is completely false and can only end with her being revealed as a manipulative phony.I guess that the reader is supposed to feel touched by the deep turmoil in Elizabeth's soul that makes her too vulnerable to ever reveal the truth about who she is to anyone and by her longing for love, which "she could only think of... as a moment of consummate seriousness, consummate honesty". I, however, just felt irritated and bored by her. She just seemed like some sort of borderline personality to me who is constantly trying to spin everything into a drama that will make people admire her or feel compassion for her. And the book never really let me deep enough into her to really give a crap about finding out what exactly those precious hidden feelings were. I kept reading because I was sort of hoping that someone would figure out what a liar she was and confront her, but that never happened. I guess this is an interesting character study, but not a particularly interesting story.

  • Catherine
    2019-01-29 23:44

    A well-done novel--particularly impressive that it was McDermott's first. I'm not very familiar with her work. I read That Night several years ago after watching its film adaptation on TV (back when C. Thomas Howell still had a career), but it didn't inspire me to seek out her other books. And then a few years ago she was the keynote speaker at a writers' conference I attended, and she was awful. I can't even remember why exactly; I think she just read a speech she had already presented somewhere else. Maybe she was having a bad day or maybe she doesn't like speaking in public. But she definitely wasn't all there that day.But A Bigamist's Daughter is very clever and nicely structured, I think. You can sometimes see her hands holding the strings a little bit, but the writing is clever and engrossing, and it took a while for me to see where the ending would go. I read some reviews that criticized the lack of depth in the secondary characters, but that didn't bother me. It seemed fitting, considering the self-absorption, denial, and fear of the protagonist. Still, I wanted to know more about her mother and father. This book will definitely steer you away from using a vanity press. "Editor" is the perfect job for Elizabeth, and the scenes that take place there are among my favorites.

  • Catherine
    2019-01-20 01:39

    Having read and immensely enjoyed other Alice McDermott novels, I was eager to read her debut novel. I definitely believed her work took an upward trajectory; A Bigamist's Daughter was intriguing, but never consistently engaging. Yet there were glimmers of the brilliant prose that I so loved in After This, et al. "In this moment, I thought, there will be the thrill of his definite presence, of her single definite word. In this next moment, she will begin to speak and whatever word she chooses will cut through all her stories, all my memories, all interpretations and speculations and hopes. It will be final, whatever she says in this moment. It will be true. I looked at her as she watched the trees. I saw her head tremble, a slight, involuntary nod: now, now. But each moment passed. We sat in silence. A silence marked only by the form and the timbre of all it would not and yet might, still, at any moment become."

  • Helena Claire
    2019-01-22 05:48

    I picked this up because I loved Alice McDermott's Someone and wanted to read more by her.I take it that this was an early novel, and it shows both her unevenness and her promise. I didn't like any of the characters in the book except perhaps Ward, and I kept waiting for some development in the main characters that never took place. They all seem to walk away from the experiences unchanged - if anything, confirmed in their delusions.The language, on the other hand, showed the vividness that I remembered. Even minor characters are vividly sketched. One scene involving the main character and her publisher's cover artist was especially memorable, and I can open up the book at random to find myself lost in an interesting place.Worth reading, especially to see how McDermott has grown over time, but a bit depressing.

  • Susan Steggall
    2019-01-20 23:59

    The word ‘random’ applies not only to the publisher of this novel but also to my chancing upon it at all! As the Manly ferry arrived at its wharf a few weeks ago, a fellow passenger offered it to me as she had just finished reading it. The book is set in the decades before the revolution of the digital age with its personal computers and desktop publishing, the Internet and smart phones. The world McDermott creates – one of typed manuscripts sent by post, communication by mail and the laborious processes of typesetting and printing – is so far from today’s experience that it is a fascinating read, especially for students of contemporary literary culture.

  • Michelle
    2019-01-23 07:47

    This was a very interesting tale, as all of Alice McDermott's books seem to be. You've got some Roman Catholic issues, and some interesting young woman identity issues, plus some issues of different ways of telling stories. Haven't thought about that, but all of these people are story tellers in one way or the other. A lot of her books seem to have something about the lies we tell each other and ourselves, and this one leaves you wondering if she'll change before the end of the book. I won't tell you, although you know I'd like to.

  • Lisa
    2019-02-07 00:45

    It was seriously difficult to believe that the same author wrote this book as well as Charming Billy. While Charming Billy was not the most enthralling book I read this year, the writing was so much better. This novel had an interesting premise, but the descriptive language was often trashy at the beginning and cost the author and story credibility for me. It was an easy read, but not nearly as well written as Charming Billy.