I enjoyed this book from the first paragraph. It is incredibly easy to get pulled into the story and start caring for the characters. Bella is only just four years old, very cute and I immediately took to her. Her young father is clearly caring for her as well as loving her, yet he is resorting to feeding her Tictacs for breakfast! What is going on? Why are they in this desperate situation? Why is Travis (the dad) about to do something very risky, and why does he intend to leave Bella with Erin. Yet he hasn't actually asked Erin, he just puts a note in Bella's pocket. We don't even know who Erin is yet. As the reader we don't yet know much at all but I want to. I am hooked. This book is almost a thriller because you just have to know what is going to happen.
There are three main characters, Erin, Robin and Travis; who each have their own chapters to tell the story from their point of view. The book not only moves forward through each of them but also goes back in time to explain how each of them got to where they are now.
The Good Father is an easy book to read but not because it's shallow or fluffy.
Diane Chamberlain writes about people first and foremost. Her former career as a clinical social worker and therapist has clearly informed her work and gives her books a very grounded and "real" feeling.
Her books describe complicated situations and the character's responses to them in ways that are very easy to relate to.
Although Diane Chamberlain's books are currently marketed " for fans of Jodi Picoult " I personally prefer Diane mainly because I think she writes more complex characters with her trademark warmth and realism. I also enjoy the way she concludes her stories.
I think Jodi Picoult's books are very much more issue based, and the characters tend to be less rounded out. This is just my opinion. I am sure plenty of other readers will not agree. :-)
I started reading Diane's books about six months ago and have read all the ones I can find. She is an American writer who started having her work published back in the 90's so some of the books are harder to track down.
Also if you like Diane Chamberlain I would recommend Nancy Thayer and Kristin Hannah as two other US women writers that write similarly engrossing books. I wish that a UK publisher would publish more of all their work over here.
'You could block things from your mind for years at a time. You could make them go away because you know that if you let them in, the pain could nearly kill you.'
As this novel begins, we meet Travis Brown and his little daughter Bella. Travis has had a run of bad luck, losing his regular work in construction and also losing his home. It leaves him in desperate need of a new job, but despite his searches, there is little available, and as a result, he ultimately takes on a role against his better judgement, simply because he sees no other way out, and it will mean he can earn enough money to try and make a difference to their lives. Travis is in his early twenties and raising his little girl alone, without her mother Robin. He is the most prominent good father of the novel's title, and he cherishes Bella; everything he does is driven by his love for her and his need to care for her and bring her up well. When he meets Erin, a kind lady who he deems trustworthy and who takes an instant liking to Bella as they meet each morning in the coffee shop, he decides to trust her with the most precious thing he has.
I really liked the structure of this novel. Three narrators, Travis, Robin and Erin, and the author alternates between them to give us three different views of events. The starting point is a glimpse into the future, and it was interesting to then be taken back into the past, knowing that this scene was coming up, and seeing it from different viewpoints. Gradually, the past is revealed and we find out about Erin's own huge private tragedy, we discover the romance that Travis and Robin shared when they were younger, and we learn how and why Robin couldn't keep her own daughter or be involved in her upbringing. All three of them have personal battles to overcome, and are forced to confront the things that frighten them the most, or hold them back, in order to take back control of their own lives. The narrative builds to a tense climax as events come to a head.
I enjoyed this story. It is character driven, but equally the plot is riveting too. I was keen to find out how things would progress for all three of the main characters. The writer evidently carefully depicted the relationship between Travis and his father, and Robin and her father too, and brought these into the story; I think Travis's relationship with his father influenced how well he cared for Bella. Travis tells us: 'My father'd never broken a promise to me, and I remembered how that felt, knowing I could always trust him no matter what.' Back when Robin and Travis were together, the closeness of Travis and his father is noticed by her too, and we learn of another man who fits the novel's title: 'I loved my own father and I would have said we were close, but Travis's father was almost like a best friend to him. A really, really good father.' Robin Robin's relationship with her potential future sister-in-law Alissa is also well constructed and allows for Robin's changing perception of herself and the admission to herself of her true feelings.
I think Diane Chamberlain really is a consistently good writer, creating readable, engrossing stories about relationships and families, life and love, and she creates believable, flawed characters that the reader really comes to care about and root for. I always look forward to reading her books, and haven't been disappointed by one yet.
As with Diane Chamberlain's other books, 'The Good Father' is told through multiple narrators, which at first seem unconnected. Travis is a young father struggling to take care of his four-year-old daughter Bella, after a fire that cost him his mother, his house and his job; Robin is engaged to Dale, who is running for mayor and has just witnessed the birth of Hannah, Dale's teenage sister Alissa's baby; and Erin who spends her time sitting with her iPad in JumpStart coffee shop typing on message boards as she is haunted by the loss of her young daughter in a terrible accident on a pier.
At first there are a lot of characters to get to know and the reader is not quite sure how all the pieces in this puzzle of a story fit together. However this becomes more and more intriguing the more you read, as you begin to see where the story is heading and you wonder what choices the characters will make. I thoroughly recommend this book as I was hooked throughout all the way to the dramatic and satisfying conclusion and I will continue to read any books by this author.
on 20 June 2012
I have read a lot of DC's books, and whilst, like some other reviewers on here, I am a little concerned that she may be falling into the Jodi Picoult `quantity over quality' trap, I generally really enjoy them, and find them to be easy, but compulsive, `cant put it down' reading.
Sadly, I cannot put `The Good Father' into that category. It lacked the suspense and plot twists usually characteristic of DC's novels, but this doesn't stop it being an enjoyable read. What does, is the fact that what the whole plot is based around - a single fathers desperation to provide for his daughter - is completely unrealistic, as it does not at all take into account the reality of the US welfare system. A single, unemployed father, who loses his home in the way described in the novel, would be entitled to financial support from the state, and emergency housing. Whilst this would not be a great situation, it means the desperation felt by the father in this novel is completely unbelievably, and for me, takes away any credibility of the following plot. The accurate details DC usually uses to build her characters and their circumstances is what usually makes them so enticing, as you find yourself thinking `what would I do?'.I read this novel, waiting and waiting for this to be addressed (knowing DC's previous career as a social worker I thought she could never have overlooked something like this) but it didn't happen, and left me feeling like either I was missing something, or that the book was! I'm also really surprised no one else has mentioned this - so please, tell me, am I missing something?!
The Good Father by Diane Chamberlain is one book which I would recommend to all readers of fiction especially to readers who enjoy the work of Jodi Picoult as it was written in the same style but I honestly would say that Diane Chamberlain is a better writer as she uses so much extra detail in her writing and when she is using each of the characters to narrate their own story she does it in such a way that the reader can do nothing but become attached to each of the characters.
Travis is doing everything he can to give Bella his daughter the life he needs but after a terrible tragedy, his life unravels at such a force he cannot control it. He is offered a one off deal which he sees as an answer to his problems but he knows to do this he will have to let a complete stranger who he has met in a coffee shop look after Bella. That complete stranger is Erin but Travis does not realise Erin is also coping with her own tragedies and total heartbreak and most important of all he does not understand how hard it will be for Erin to look after Bella not only physically but more mentally.
We also meet Robin and through her own narration we are told she is Bella's birth mother but because of her own health problems she was unable too look after Bella and Travis ended up having sole custody but this arrangement has its own heart wrenching story and I promise any reader will grow to care for each of these characters as they read the book. But through reading the book we get to know Robin better and we watch as she grows not only physically stronger but also emotionally stronger because of Robin having her own choices to make.
What I loved about this book is that the author give us three totally different characters from totally different backgrounds and because of one child these characters are all brought together in a way which no one would never have imagined. The author has wrote such an exciting book which I could not put down because I wanted nothing but happiness for each of them but most important of all I wanted Bella to have the wonderful childhood she deserved.
The author Diane Chamberlain has written a book which was such an exciting and addictive read, she fully understands what any parent would do when the health of their children is under threat but with each of the characters she not only describes them physically but through her writing I fully understood the emotional turmoil they were facing individually daily. As I was reading Travis' story I fully understood why he made the choice he did to put the care of his child into the hands of a stranger and but most of all why he made the one dangerous decision to break the law for him to be able too feed and cloth his most precious thing and that was his daughter Bella. But the author also developed a character like Erin who has lost her precious child and why she has continued to make the choices she has made daily from the day she lost her child and what pain she suffered every day since. What I particularly liked about what the way the author developed Erin as a character and how she used Bella as a way of Erin not getting over the death of her daughter but she brought the innocence of a child to help heal the pain she felt from she lost her child in such a tragic way. Each of the characters all had their own choices to make and each of them had all different outcomes.
The Good Father by Diane Chamerlain is one book I highly recommend and if I could have given it ten stars I would have as it has everything a good book needs and what a reader wants.
You will not be able to put this book down - it has everything.
It is a complex story about teenage sweethearts Travis & Robin and their baby Bella, but along with their story is entwined a separate one of Michael and Erin and their tragedy. Insterspersed with the plight of these two couples are baddies Roy and Savannah.
The book has emotion & suspense, love & friendship, regret & hope, fear & intrigue. It is a thriller with twists and turns. All the way the reader is fearful of what is going to happen next - will there be success or failure. It is a story of determination to put everything right against all odds and difficulties, it is a story of the love for a child.
Read it and find out - you will not be disappointed. This is a real page turner - a brilliant book - a must read.
on 23 May 2012
If it hadn't been for the necessary evils of work and sleep - I would have finished this book in one sitting. I absolutely loved it! The characters are totally believable and are so easy to engage with. Erin will break your heart with what she is going through and Diane Chamberlain has been honest regarding the havoc that grief wrecks upon a relationship and how each persons response is so unique to them. I really felt for all the main characters - everyone was trying to deal with the hand that life had dealt them, in the best way they knew how. Travis is young and under so much pressure to provide for his daughter and he also is grieving the loss of his mother and copeing with now having no home, no job and no money. Top marks for The Good Father. Absolutely loved it from beginning to end.Cannot recommend it highly enough.
I first read a Dianne Chamberlain book purely by chance, as it was left in a hotel I stayed at. I always like her style of writing, her plot lines, description of scenery and characters are always interesting and there are often some unpredictable twists.
For me, this was no exception. This tale, of a young teenage dad, suddenly thrown in at the deep end and forced to take on the care of his baby daughter, keeps you transfixed, worrying, guessing and caring, all at the same time. I felt for Travis, while feeling exasperated also at times, but certainly, never was I bored. I really enjoyed this book and will be looking out for the next one!
on 23 December 2013
Perhaps because of her background as a psychologist, Diane Chamberlain has a real talent for creating believable, rounded and distinct characters, and she does it again in The Good Father. Perhaps most notably, it's hard not to fall in love with four-year-old Bella. In fact, despite the title and the fact that she's the only protagonist who doesn't narrate chapters, it's Bella who's at the heart of everything in this book.
Travis is a single dad in his early twenties, and in the opening chapter of The Good Father he wakes up in the back of a van and gives his daughter TicTacs for breakfast. He's clearly struggling with a difficult decision, but we don't know what that decision is or why he and Bella are effectively homeless. What we do understand very quickly, though, is that - despite their current circumstances - this is a very special father-and-daughter relationship. So when Travis leaves Bella with Erin, a near-stranger, with no explanation, we are intrigued rather than outraged.
As is typical of Diane Chamberlain's novels, each chapter switches perspective. Some chapters are told from Travis' perspective, but others are from the perspectives of Erin and Robin. For Erin (the lady in the coffee shop who finds herself entrusted with caring for Bella), having to play mum to this little girl is almost more than she can cope with, but in fact turns out to be just what she needs to get her own life back on track. Robin's story, meanwhile, feels quite distant in more ways than one: she's happily engaged to Dale, who has a bright future in local politics, and has been welcomed into his family and the town they live in. She's also Bella's mother and, when her teenage sister-in-law has a baby, she finds herself overwhelmed by memories of a period in her life she thought she'd left behind.
It's easy to assume that Travis is the `good father' of the title, but actually I don't think it's clear who or what a good father is. It's impossible to doubt the love Travis feels for his little girl, and what he's given up to devote himself to her. But how far should he go to give her a proper home and a decent breakfast every day? Robin's father was determined to protect his seriously ill teenage daughter at all costs, and when she recognises the same impulse in her father-in-law she's still not sure whether this makes him a good father or a bad one. And the way Erin's husband responds to tragedy forces her to question just how good a father he is. Without explicitly stating the question, Diane Chamberlain gracefully explores what it means to be a father, and relationships in general.
What is less typical of her novels is the structure of this one. After the opening chapter, the narrative rewinds a little. We learn what led Erin to be sitting in a carpark coffee shop every day at the same time, how Travis came to be in the desperate situation he's found himself in, and why Robin has never known her little girl. We reach the opening scene again in the middle of the book, and suddenly the action picks up speed. The first half of the book covers several weeks (as well as flashing back to previous years); the second half focuses just on a couple of days. For me, the thread that pulls the three characters' stories together is a little far-fetched compared to Diane Chamberlain's other books, and the `bad guys' are a little two-dimensional compared to the other characters. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the structure: setting up a dramatic and intriguing situation, rewinding and building up to that event is an interesting technique for creating a desire to read on.
There is one other way in which The Good Father differs from other work by the same author. Diane Chamberlain is an American writer whose work has only recently been published in the UK. This means that some of her `new' releases are actually several years old. I've been reading them in the order I've come across them, so have mixed up her older and newer titles. But one thing that seems to characterise them fairly consistently is the big revelation - the twist that makes you suck in your breath and flick back through the pages to see what clues you missed. The Good Father doesn't have this revelation moment. Instead, smaller bits of information are revealed gradually. Rather than building a picture and then having that picture turned upside down, in The Good Father the picture is slowly pieced together as three separate stories develop and interweave.
This isn't my favourite Diane Chamberlain novel. But it's an enjoyable read, with a small cast of characters I really cared about. Diane Chamberlain tends to be marketed towards women, but I think the themes in this book would resonate with men too, especially dads.
I will be totally honest! I tried reading a Diane Chamberlain a while back but a few chapters in, I wasn't getting into it very much. I put the book back and it still remains in my never ending list of books to read. With that in mind, when I looked at this new release The Good Father I wasn't altogether that excited about reading it. Although I never let things like that put me off and boy am I glad that I didn't. When I read the synopsis I really felt drawn to read the book and took this as a good sign.
In the beginning of the book we meet Travis a young father bringing up his adorable four year old little girl Bella. To be frank, that seems to be all we know early on in the book. Travis leaves his little girl in the hands of a lady named Erin, a woman who he had only met a week before. Many people may think that the instant reaction to Travis would be one of disgust, but in all honesty it is more like intrigue. It is clear from the outset that Diane Chamberlain can write in that magical way which manages to convey real emotion and you can see that this is a man that adores his child. So why would he leave her? With that question in my mind I continued to read at an alarming rate.
We get to see glimpses of the people featuring in this story as their lives progress and as time goes on we see how they are all interlinked. The characters all have a past and each has their own haunting story which has got them to their current situation. Each character drew me in and I was so engrossed that dinner was left unattended and my husband got a Pot Noodle for dinner! As the story picks up pace, we see Travis making more and more stupid mistakes and my heart goes out to him.
Although this book will be generalised as a chick lit book, I think there is a lot more to the story that the cover suggests. There is quite a bit of suspense surrounding the story and it keeps on your toes from cover to cover. When the ending came I was so pleased that I had picked this book up. The additional bonus for me was the epilogue that the author had added, which isn't always done. In this case it was the perfect finish for me and answered all those questions I had about what had happened to everybody. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, it was an absolutely brilliant read and for anybody that likes authors like Susan Lewis, this will be right up your street.