Daily Archives: December 5, 2008

The Professor’s Daugher by Emily Raboteau

The Professor’s Daughter reminded me, in the form of a novel, of One Drop, the memoir of the daughter of a black man and a white woman. The daughter here, Emma, is clearly informed of her black father’s race, but the dads’ careers are similar: first in the family to go to college, followed by recognition as a college dean here, journalist in One Drop. Emma’s story is interleaved with others, including her dad’s, his dad’s, and an odd but tantalizing strand about an Ethiopian woman who married a colleague of her father’s. Unfortunately that last one peters out into strangeness although the character would have deserved a little more. The book is very skillful about weaving different characters, different times, and different stories, but Emma is fairly boring. Her brother, a troubled but potentially brilliant teenager, has a tragic accident in chapter 1 and all the flashbacks don’t suffice to bring back his quirky ways of thinking about life.

The best part of the book may be Emma’s father education in a Catholic boarding school, which seems to a recurrign theme in the books I read this year (see here and here .) But it’s too brief.

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The World According to Bertie by Alexander Mccall Smith

The World According to Bertie is in the 44 Scotland Street series like Espresso Tales and Love over Scotland and I’m glad to report that the series continues to improve. (It was a slow day at the library, and the mention of my favorite character, Bernie, right in the title, seemed to be a good omen for me to pick up the book.)

Bernie is still 6, still precocious, and still afflicted with a crazy helicopter mom who seems to dote much less on her new baby, little Ulysses (sic), even as said Ulysses looks suspiciously like Bernie’s therapist. Who knows what could have happened there? Other characters are finding love (Matthew) or convenient marriages (Bruce), and as usual the pleasure is in the reading of small adventures rather than the adventures themselves.

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