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The Daughters: Book summary and reviews of The Daughters by Adrienne Celt

The Daughters

by Adrienne Celt

The Daughters by Adrienne Celt X
The Daughters by Adrienne Celt
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  • Published Aug 2015
    272 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Book Summary

Lulu can't sing. Since the traumatic birth of her daughter, the internationally renowned soprano hasn't dared utter a note. She's afraid that her body is too fragile and that she may have lost her talent to a long-dreaded curse afflicting all of the mothers in her family.

When Lulu was a child, her strong-willed grandmother Ada filled her head with fables of the family's enchanted history in the Polish countryside. A fantastical lore took hold - an incantatory mix of young love, desperate hope, and one sinister bargain that altered the family's history forever. Since that fateful pact, Ada tells Lulu, each mother in their family has been given a daughter, but each daughter has exacted an essential cost from her mother.

Ada was the first to recognize young Lulu's transcendent talent, spotting it early on in their cramped Chicago apartment, then watching her granddaughter ascend to dizzying heights in packed international concert halls. But as the curse predicted, Lulu's mother, a sultry and elusive jazz singer, disappeared into her bitterness in the face of Lulu's superior talent - before disappearing from her family's life altogether. Now, in the early days of her own daughter's life, Lulu now finds herself weighing her overwhelming love for her child against the burden of her family's past.

In incandescent prose, debut novelist Adrienne Celt skillfully intertwines the sensuous but precise physicality of both motherhood and music. She infuses The Daughters with the spirit of the rusalka, a bewitching figure of Polish mythology that inspired Dvorák's classic opera. The result is a tapestry of secrets, affairs, and unimaginable sacrifices, revealing a family legacy laced with brilliance, tragedy, and most mysterious and seductive of all - the resonant ancestral lore that binds each mother to the one that came before.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A haunting novel with real emotional depth, Celt's psychologically nuanced debut continues to resonate long after the last page has been turned." - Kirkus

"Short story and comics creator Celt interweaves themes of music, motherhood, and myth in her lyrical debut novel…The novel's luminous prose, subtle structure, and rich contrast between present-day Chicago and Old World folklore help craft a resonant meditation on the way our stories at once shape and sabotage our lives. - Publishers Weekly

"Celt's debut is a carefully crafted and mesmerizing look at one family's history… A beautifully written exploration of the myths and the realities that bind families together that will leave readers eagerly awaiting Celt's next novel." - Booklist

"A lush song of a book that understands the intertwined beauty and fear of motherhood and daughterhood." - Caitlin Horrocks, author of This is Not Your City

"A story libretto that commands attention from the opening scene. Celt has crafted a modern fairy tale that had me up from my chair in standing ovation." - Sarah McCoy, New York Times and international best-selling author of The Mapmaker's Children

"Brimming with sad, delicious folklore and echoing with the voices of five generations of mothers and daughters in a family shaped by music as much as by tragedy, Celt's debut is enchanting." - Sarah Cornwell, author of What I Had Before I Had You

This information about The Daughters was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Adrienne Celt

Adrienne Celt's work has been published in Esquire, the Kenyon Review, the Rumpus, and elsewhere, and she holds an MFA from Arizona State University. She lives in Tucson, and she has a Polish grandmother of her own.

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