Town Father, Or, Where Graceful Girls Abound
by Kevin Brennan
I loved this book. The voice reminded me of a male Jane Austen, due to the slow and careful attention to detail plus the complex yet subtle interactions between the characters (and lord knows I love me some Jane Austen). What I loved best, though, were the small flickers of humor carefully placed throughout the story, many of which made me laugh out loud.
The premise of the book: Meek-mannered Henry O’Farrell, a 30-something virgin living in Philadelphia in the late 19th century, answers a job ad for a town father in a small California town.
When he arrives, he finds that the town of Hestia is nothing as he expected, for it’s populated with only women, about 300 of them. And guess what they’re looking for?
Yep, you’re right: A man. A man to help them reproduce and repopulate the town with a new generation of women.
Poor Henry! And yet, lucky Henry.
The complexities, and the humor, of the situation rarely escape Brennan’s eye, and readers can’t help falling in love with fumbling Henry plus an array of Hestia’s women, including the lovely Avis, the mannish Tilly (one of my favorite characters) and Lucien and Maisie.
The story moves slowly at times, lingering in the world of Hestia, this world of women, almost as if Brennan doesn’t want to leave this place he’s created and, neither does the reader, either. Luckily, Brennan smartly peppers the story with enough conflicts to keep the pace rolling forward (an unexpected death, a visit from circus performers who refuse to leave and cause much disruption, and lusty thoughts, among the town’s women).
The story poses many questions: Is it possible to devise and maintain a Utopian society? Can women live without men? Do men cause most of the conflicts in a society?
5 out of 5 stars and listed by Cinthia one of the best books she read during 2015.
(This review has appeared elsewhere.)