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Fiction Family Life

The Good Father

by (author) Wayne Grady

Doubleday Canada
Initial publish date
Apr 2021
Family Life, Sagas, Literary
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2021
    List Price

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From award-winning, bestselling author Wayne Grady comes The Good Father, his first contemporary novel, which comically and tragically reckons with a father and daughter's estrangement, the failures brought on by hubris, the limits of perception and the price we pay for second chances.

Every story has two sides, two perspectives. And when it comes to a relationship between a daughter and her father, separated first by divorce and then by both generational gaps and physical and emotional distance, those perspectives can colossally diverge.

Such is the case with Harry Bowes and his only daughter, Daphne. Harry is a mild mannered journalist turned teacher turned wine merchant who is content to putter around his home in Toronto eating things straight out of the fridge that both his doctor and his second wife, Elinor, would disapprove of, and procrastinate calling his daughter even though he senses something is amiss. Meanwhile, in Vancouver, Daphne seems intent on a course of nihilism, having gone from being a loving girl to a top student to a hostile young woman who is determined to destroy her life and relationships by self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. When a catastrophic event wrenches them out of their states, one of stasis and one of chaos, Harry and Daphne are forced to examine the ways in which their self-absorption has eroded their connection and discover whether a family's bond is truly ironclad or if their damage is irreparable.

Told in alternating perspectives, The Good Father delivers a deeply satisfying and layered novel of love, perception, family and domesticity. Propelled by regret, compassion, frustration and comfort, this novel gives us Wayne Grady at the height of his powers.

About the author

Wayne Grady is the general editor of this series of literary anthologies devoted to the world's natural wonders. One of Canada's foremost popular science writers and the winner of three Science in Society awards from the Canadian Science Writers' Association, he is the author of twelve nonfiction books on such diverse adventures as hunting dinosaurs in the Gobi Desert, investigating global warming at the North Pole, and discovering the wild in an urban metropolis. His books include the bestselling Tree: A Life Story, written with David Suzuki, and Bringing Back the Dodo. His most recent book is the award-winning The Great Lakes: The Natural History of a Changing Region. He lives near Kingston, Ontario.

Wayne Grady's profile page

Excerpt: The Good Father (by (author) Wayne Grady)

She hears footsteps coming down the stairs and closes her notebook, waiting for him to knock. He has a key, but he doesn't use it when he knows she's in here. And she never locks the door. She learned that in rehab. Not even the bathroom door. Especially not the bathroom door. This knocking thing is a game they play: he gets to think he's being kind and considerate, and she gets to think she has some control over who comes into her room.

Sometimes she ignores him. When that happens he usually creeps back upstairs with his tea getting cold, careful not to spill on the carpeted stairs. Maybe he assumes she's sleeping, or taking a shower, or on the toilet. But sometimes, after standing there for ten seconds, he knocks again, a touch harder, with more authority, and calls her name a little louder, with an inquisitive lift at the end: "Daphne?" Is he imagining her lying unconscious on the floor with a needle sticking out of her arm? Or does he know she's sitting at the dining table, keeping very still and waiting for him to leave? So this is another little game they play. Sometimes she gives in and calls back to him. She didn't used to, but these days she almost always does.

"Hey, Dad."

Editorial Reviews


"A study in imperfect love and staggeringly fateful choices, the novel impresses because the failures, misunderstandings and consequences begin with such ordinary thoughts and actions. Its tragedies originate in the everyday—and with that, Grady ably illustrates the vulnerabilities of merely being alive." —Toronto Star

"Readers with a predilection for touching, even heartbreaking, plots served up with a good measure of satire and acerbic one-liners will be satiated by the latest from Wayne Grady. . . . The Good Father illuminates the misdeeds, miscommunication, and regrets in the relationships that define us in the 21st Century. . . . Reading Wayne Grady's The Good Father . . . is time well spent." —The Ormsby Review

"Every parent, every daughter and son will want to read this book. Does this include all readers? I hope so. The Good Father is a wonder, heart-breaking and heart-mending at the same time, beautifully rendered in Wayne Grady's inimitable, luminous style. Contemporary in its concerns but eternal in its laments and forgiveness, this is a novel to treasure. It affirms page after page with confidence and wisdom that our lives matter, that family matters, even though we wound those we love in ways that may not heal." —Lorna Crozier, author of Through the Garden

"The Good Father is a powerful and unsentimental look at the relationship between a father and his daughter. Wayne Grady has expressed what is often inexpressible in this beautiful and moving novel." —Helen Humphreys, author of Rabbit Foot Bill

"The Good Father chronicles the entwined heartbreak of father and daughter: the words unsaid, the hurts kept hidden, and love's missed chances. A tale of redemption told with intelligence, compassion and deep tenderness." —Kerri Sakamoto, author of Floating City
"If only all of us, children and parents, could have this conversation. A tender novel that tackles addiction, betrayal and the ups and downs of parenthood. Thought-provoking and wise." —Susan Swan, author of The Dead Celebrities Club

"The Good Father is a book of real wisdom and profound heart. It is also gripping, narratively and emotionally, as we track a father and daughter’s stumbling progress through disappointment, setback and near tragedy, to the book's magical final moments of reconciliation and redemption. Grady's latest work is a note-perfect evocation of that most challenging aspect of parenting, where our deepest sense of love and obligation is twinned with the feeling of being utterly lost. Parents and children have no idea how and where they will ultimately find each other. But in this elegant and heartfelt novel, Grady shows us that it does yet happen." —Timothy Taylor, author of The Rule of Stephens
"The Good Father poses a terrifying question: What happens when a man's escape hatch becomes the trapdoor in his daughter's childhood? The answer is a thing of wonder—a riveting, stay-up-late read that doubles as a deeply moving treatise on familial love." —Alissa York, author of The Naturalist

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