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If My Father Loved Me [Paperback]

Rosie Thomas
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Jan 2004

Sadie's life is calm and complete. She is a mother, a good friend, and the robust survivor of a marriage she deliberately left behind. She has come to believe that she has everything she wants, or deserves.

But now her father is dying: the vital, elusive man who spent his life creating perfumes for other women is slipping away from her. When she realises that she can never make her peace with him, Sadie begins to look back over her childhood. In pursuing his separate life, Sadie's father ignored her, subjecting her to succession of 'aunties', leaving her loveless and alone.

As Sadie confronts the truth about her father, her relationship with her son Jack appears to be breaking down and she is intent on saving it. Then the arrival of one of those fleeting women from her father's past starts a train of events that even Sadie cannot control...

Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; New Ed edition (1 Jan 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099271559
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099271550
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 413,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

The opening line of Rosie Thomas's 15th book, If My Father Loved Me, is an intriguing one: "My father was a perfumer and a con artist". The daughter of this "grand master of deception" is Sadie, a divorced bookbinder, with two children who has carved out a calm life for herself. She loves her job and her friends and her charming daughter Lola is on the way to college. Her son, Jack, is more problematic--he's not a typical drink-and-drugs adolescent, instead he's a loner who likes bird watching and animals, but who doesn't seem overly fond of his mother.

Tricky parental situations are abound in this novel. Firstly there's Sadie's uneasy relationship with her father Ted--when Sadie's mother died "he was left with a beady-eyed and unpliant child" and Sadie was left with a father who was an expert in "bottled dreams", flirting and double-dealing, but not so hot on child care. Elsewhere friends have uneasy truces with their lover's children while divorced couples try to keep their parental roles on course.

Rosie Thomas handles all this domestic drama with compassion and kindness. The characterisation is adept and the emotional dilemmas real and involving. Add in the lovely details abut the creation of scent--descriptions of the fragrance of Jasmine in Grasse, the appeal of Ted's Mayfair shop Scentsation "a faint breath of fresh flowers and warm aromatics which conjured up worlds of glamour and privilege," and you have a perceptive and engaging novel. --Eithne Farry --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"Another absorbing story from Rosie Thomas, confronting all the complexities of love, passion, pain and the rebuilding of fractured lives" (Daily Mirror)

"This is territory at which Rosie Thomas excels and to which she brings compassion and emotional intelligence" (Elizabeth Buchan Sunday Times)

"A tale enriched by Thomas' compassion and wry sense of humour" (Woman & Home)

"A beautifully written, affecting tale from the author of A Woman of Our Times" (Choice Magazine)

"An extremely touching and well-written study fo human emotions and family bonds" (The Sunderland Echo)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Book by Rosie Thomas 24 July 2006
I must admit to start with I wasn't sure whether I was going to get into this book, but once it got going I couldn't put it down!

The story is about Sadie, who has to come to terms with her fathers 'colourful' past, and her own when he dies suddenly. Some ghosts from her fathers past arise and she also has to deal with some problems with her son.

Rosie Thomas never fails to deliver a good read, and she certainly doesn't disappoint with this one!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Talented writer but unsatisfactory read... 5 Mar 2011
Following the sudden death of her father Ted, Sadie Thompson is forced to analyse the fraught nature of their relationship whilst he was alive. A perfumer and 'con artist' as she describes him, Ted forever kept his daughter at an emotional distance. As Sadie's youngest child, pre-teen Jack, increasingly pulls away from his mum, she is afraid history will repeat itself. She starts to delve deeper into the past to avoid this happening only to have things complicated by the emergence of one of Ted's old-flames, the thoroughly irascible Audrey.

Rosie Thomas is clearly a talented writer. It's therefore a pity that 'If My Father Loved Me' is scuppered by so many avoidable pitfalls. First of all, with one or two exceptions such as Jack's teacher Mr Rainbird, most of the characters are incredibly irritating. From Sadie's smug best friend Mel and the self-involved daughter Lola, to the token lesbian couple, one of whom Penny is Sadie's business partner. The worst offenders are Audrey and the treacherously attention-seeking, over-indulged Jack, who conspire to make Sadie's life difficult. Jack starts off as a fairly sympathetic child, understandably resentful of some of the life choices his mother has made that have had an adverse affect on his life. However he spends most of the book being so unnecessarily obnoxious that after a while you just want to wallop him. Audrey is a bitter shrew who harbours an irrational grudge against Sadie. It's all the more infuriating then, when Jack allies with her for no justifiable reason except to torment his mother.

Sadie herself, with her constant naval gazing and apologetic manner is no delight either.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Growing Warm Glow 30 Nov 2009
By M. J. Saxton VINE VOICE
I found this a very comforting read. The story deals with so many aspects of isolation that you wouldn't think it would be. It is a coming-to-terms novel of varied dimensions.

Sadie has to come to terms with the death of her father: someone she has always venerated yet felt totally separated from in emotional terms. The death is dealt with very quickly and there is a moment where the story seems prematurely ended. Some readers may have difficulty getting beyond this point.

Sadie is settled and in control; you agree with her reasonable view of the world, her past, her children. Rosie Thomas uses commonly accepted behaviour patterns in revealing her central character to the reader, then demonstrates that from an inverted viewpoint they betray insecurity and a need to control.

It is not the others who are unreasonable, it is Sadie. Yet so much of the story is couched in everyday terms. That's the clever thing about this novel: there are no huge momentous events (some dramatic ones, yes) on which the plot turns. Sadie could be any one of us and her emotional coming-to-terms is rooted in the diurnal round.

Ted evolves from the glamorous film-star type into a shabby middle-class man who couldn't keep it together.

Jack, her son, is a joyous creation, adolescent angst to the fore.

It is a moving story, but not sentimental, and there are some lovely comic moments, the siege outside Audrey's being the most memorable.

A put-your-feet-up, sit back and chill book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and moving read 21 Nov 2013
This was a very powerful and deeply moving read about the main character's relationship with her father, and the need to reinterpret her relationship with him after his death. The real skill likes in the intricate depiction of the family relationships and how they change and develop over time.

I also loved the gentle romance with the teacher in the book, and how that is resolved. I couldn't put the book down. Verdict: simply excellent.
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