At the Far End of Nowhere by Christine Davis Merriman
September 24, 2018
This book came to my attention and I thought I would share it as it sounds like an interesting and unusual historical setting. I’ve been increasingly interested in mid-20th century (post WWII), especially the 60’s. I’m adding this to my ever-growing list!
“In this hauntingly unconventional novel, young Lissa Power challenges the imagination and captures the heart as she struggles to grow up under the guidance of her father, Stouten―a watchmaker, inventor, and mechanical wizard―who is easily old enough to be her grandfather.
When Lissa is twelve, her mother dies from breast cancer, and the reclusive old watchmaker, now 84 years old, must oversee his daughter’s coming of age. Faced with the loneliness of celibacy, the vulnerability of old age, and the responsibility of supporting two young children, Stouten remains determined to protect his beloved daughter from all harm. As Lissa matures, Stouten’s authority becomes increasingly restrictive.
Immersed in Stouten’s old-fashioned and eccentric worldview, Lissa becomes her father’s close companion, the mother of the house, and eventually her aging father’s caregiver. Enmeshed in a powerful bond, father and daughter fall back on obsessive-compulsive behavior to cope with sexual trauma, sickness, poverty, old age, and death.
Against a backdrop of tumultuous events in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s―the Cold War, political assassinations, the Vietnam War, peace protests, the Civil Rights movement, the moon landing, and the women’s liberation movement―Stouten uses storytelling to transport Lissa back with him to the time of his childhood―a much quieter time, but not an idyllic one, when horses and oxen plowed the fields and folks moved more slowly, with the rhythm of nature. Here At the Far End of Nowhere, father and daughter weave fact with fiction and merge reality with fantasy to reveal a broader truth.”