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The Critic's Daughter

A Memoir

by Priscilla Gilman

The Critic's Daughter by Priscilla Gilman X
The Critic's Daughter by Priscilla Gilman
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  • Published Feb 2023
    304 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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There are currently 24 member reviews
for The Critic's Daughter
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  • Mary H. (Phoenix, AZ)
    A Lesson In Love
    This story read like a puzzle of a dughter's love for her father (family). When pieced together all the memories and the vignettes of time they formed a huge heart that beat out pure adoration.

    Priscilla revealed her loyalty to her family early in her life. She protected her sister from the messiness of her parents relationship, She held an overwhelming responsibility for her father's happiness and she also played into her mother's contempt for her husbands actions by listening and acting the dutiful daughter.

    Priscilla's parents did not show physical love to each other and so it was difficult to extract any deep understanding of their marriage. Her attachment and faith in her father was continually fueled by his vivid imagination and magical qualities. She aligned herself with him through words and creativity, through their fondness of art and support of clever friends. This is a story about a child who had parents more committed to their individual artistic endeavors than the growth, maturation and mindful stability of their children. Priscilla adapted to her surroundings, leaned into the comforting occasions, recognized personality shifts and formed both a cushion and a bond. She did the best she could and drew strength from her father's knowledge that only fools knew everything.
  • Diane Jones
    Academic Admiration
    My love of the arts, including theatre, drew me to Priscilla Gilman’s memoir - The Critic’s Daughter. Her father was a drama critic (including Newsweek) and teacher at the prestigious Yale Drama School, so I anticipated gaining a deeper appreciation of theatre.
    Although the memoir is structured into “Acts” (like a play), it reads more like a collection of New Yorker essays. The writing is solid but has a tendency to feel intellectual or academic. There are many tender father-daughter moments but I often felt too distanced from their lives to feel emotionally engaged with her story.
  • Lorri S. (Pompton Lakes, NJ)
    The price we pay
    My initial reaction to this memoir was Priscilla Gilman was "ugh, too much daddy worship", but as I read on the book I realized I was reading an honest exploration of a complex father-daughter relationship. Just as you can never really judge a marriage unless you are a part of the marriage, the same can be said about a relationship between father and daughter. Richard Gilman was a brilliant critic, a member of the inner literary circles of the 1970's, someone that many people worshipped, none more so than his daughter Priscilla. The question becomes how much do you sacrifice to bolster another person's brilliance, especially when that other person is supposed to be nurturing you? There is no doubt that Richard Gilman loved his daughters, but he was a flawed man-child, the type that only the 1970's could produce. Priscilla Gilman worshipped her father but also loved him deeply. That their path through life as father and daughter was fraught with high drama is almost beside the point. What we are willing to endure to love and be loved is a personal decision, and Gilman very poignantly illustrated the price she paid and the depth of its impact.
  • Cindy R. (North Miami Beach, FL)
    Daddy's Little Girl
    THE CRITIC'S DAUGHTER: A Memoir (WWNorton) is a unique portrait of a father-daughter relationship. Priscilla Gilman grew up the daughter of Richard Gilman, a famous mercurial writer and theatre critic. The Gilman's lived on the upper west side and they were constantly entertaining the rich and famous artists from the threatre and literary world.

    At ten years old, Priscilla's mother, Lynn Nesbit, a successful literary agent left the marriage. We are immersed into the complexity of being a little girl. She gets to see her father as a tortured soul. She is kind to him in her memoir, sharing a full palette of the man he was he was, including his struggles with his sexuality.

    Priscilla's story is honest, raw and courageous. It is one of loss and love, as well as grief and forgiveness. I've read so many memoirs about mother-daughter relationships. This was fresh and different.

    Thank you WWNorton and BookBrowse for a copy of THE CRITIC'S DAUGHTER to read and review.
  • Christine B. (Lilydale, MN)
    "A Source of Sustenance"
    This memoir by Priscilla Gilman about "finding" her father was both poignant and terribly sad. Throughout the book Priscilla tries so hard to be the daughter, wife, sister she believes everybody expects her to be. In this process she loses sight of her own self- her needs, desires and wants. Her father was a brilliant critic, but a very needy man. He also was as hard on himself as were his expectations of those around him. This memoir seemed to be somewhat a catharsis for Priscilla as she came to realize what SHE really needed to sustain her own well being. It is a beautiful portrait of her father and also one of an intelligent, warm and giving daughter.
  • Windell H. (Rock Hill, SC)
    The Critics Daughter
    A well written memoir of family and it's struggles. A long and tense read of a struggle to right wrongs of the past which I feel is impossible. I could in no way identify with this lifestyle.
    This book is written to a limited audience. Academia will appreciate this book.
  • Barbara P. (Mountain Center, CA)
    A World Few of Us Experience
    This is not an easy read. The Critic's Daughter lets us know right away, and continually, that she is carrying the baggage of her eccentric father and her emotionally distant mother, and we will be joining her on her journey of recovery. At times it reads like a journal and at other times it seems to be an academic study her father's writing. We were able to accompany the author through her childhood in New York around her parents well-placed and famous friends. There seemed to be a lot of name-dropping - some of the names I knew and others I did not - and I was at times lost as to how impressed I was supposed to be; but on a kinder note, it was her childhood. Much of the book felt overly intellectualized and academic, but much of their life seemed overly intellectualized and academic. I hope the author has found the healing she seemed to be seeking through sharing and exploring her life and relationships in this way. If you grew up in New York or are actively involved academically in theatre and/or literature, or you are familiar with Richard Gilman's work, you will enjoy this look into their private world. If you are not already familiar with Richard Gilman, you may not enjoy the book.

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