Every once in a while I read a book, and after finishing it, wish I had someone to tell about it. What is Left the Daughter by Howard Norman is one of those rare, haunting kinds of books.
Set in Nova Scotia during World War II, Wyatt Hillyer is an unwilling accomplice to a murder committed by his uncle. Wyatt’s daughter is now 21, and a virtual stranger. He wants to leave a written record for her about how life’s circumstances and coincidences have brought him to where he is in his life, beginning with the suicides of both his parents on the same day. As a young man, Wyatt goes to live in a small village with his wise and loving Aunt Constance and his practical Uncle Donald, a woodworker. Wyatt falls in love, which is unrequited since Tilda, the young woman he loves, is head over heels for a German university exchange student. Public sentiment in this time of war, when German U-boats cruise the Canadian coast, runs high. So begins a series of events that is by turns tragic, funny, and heart breaking.
This book is not long, but the author’s writing is so sharp and crisp that he packs a lot into a relatively short tale. I think this would be a great choice for a book discussion group; search this book out, especially if you like historical novels with a strong sense of setting.
What is Left the Daughter