Papa's Daughter

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Papa's Daughter by Thyra Ferre Bjorn


I'm not sure about this one. I think it's supposed to be a heartwarming semi-autobiographical story. Here's me reading in bed, with nut thins, cheese, and hot chocolate. Yum! It was a nice break from the heavier stuff I'm reading right now, but the snack was more satisfying than the book.

Apparently it picks up where "Papa's Wife" ends, in a parsonage in early 20th century Lapland. Button is the oldest daughter, and her high-spirited personality leads her to believe that nobody in her family understands her, and her true calling is to be a famous author. The family emigrates to America, she gets married, has two daughters, reaches middle age, and then goes through depression. After years of both her and her family suffering, she stumbles across her true calling: to be a writer. She begins by writing letters, then short stories, becomes a traveling lecturer, and eventually publishes a book about her parents to much acclaim. She is happy again, her husband opens his own shop, and everyone lives happily ever after.

I'm all for finding a creative outlet--obviously, or I wouldn't be writing this right now. (And I wouldn't have three different fabrics on my ironing board, either.) But I guess I had a problem with this woman making her family so unhappy. I'm no expert, but it seems like depression can have so many causes (spiritual, emotional, physical) but it wasn't fair to her family, or herself, really, to indulge in depression for a selfish desire. It seemed like writing helped her regain her cheerful personality again, but she wasn't fulfilled until she received public acclaim. Her dream was not just to write, but to be a published author. Is that right? To tell your family "I'm not happy unless other people like me"?

Despite all of the above, I think I want to read the first book, "Papa's Wife." It seems this woman's parents had a genuine faith that she tried very hard to imitate (something else that made me sad about the book).

Here's an excerpt, something I haven't done in a while. From page 145:

Button remembered how secure they all felt when Papa and Mama went calling and left them alone because the last thing Mama would say was "You be good children now. Know that God is watching here with you while we're away. He will watch over you carefully, but remember, you can't put anything over on Him. If you're good, we might bring something nice home with us. Who knows?"
After Mama and Papa had left, Button recalled, they had wondered where God was sitting.
... (page 146)
Yes, although in the parsonage God had been very strict and despised sin, He had also been very good and watchful; it was comforting to have a God such as that. Now she had almost completely lost Him. But she must and she would hold on to herself so she would overcome her inner disturbances and once more be well again. She recalled a story from the Bible of Jacob's wrestling with God; maybe she, too, would have to wrestle with God before she could again find peace and be cured of every ill.

7 comments:

Barbara said...

I felt the same way about this book; it was a nice diversion from the heavier stuff. I found the depression episode (or rather, lengthy years of depression) hard to take, especially after having just gone on our women's retreat, where the subject was just that. Papa's Wife was much more enjoyable; it focused on the family raised by her older pastor father and his much younger and very spirited wife. It really was heartwarming.

Carol said...

Just finished Papa's Wife and did a search for the book and found your blog. Yes, the parents had much faith. It is a story of Mama going from housekeeper to mother of eight. It wasn't the greatest book, but it does show them with faith if that is what you are looking for. Blessings.

Sally Apokedak said...

Wow, I didn't even remember the depression deal or that she wanted to be a writer.

I was saved while I read this book. The scene that hit me was that she disobeyed her husband and she went out and fell on the ice.

Because of her disobedience the Father's beloved first-born son died. And the baby's father never said one word of rebuke to her. He hugged her and loved her. I wept and wept when I read that. I wanted so much for God to love me that way even though I'd killed his son.

And he did love me and forgive me.

:)

Rachel said...

Sally, I never got the parallel between Button's disobedience and our own--thanks for pointing that out! I hope the author eventually understood it herself. Thanks for sharing your story!

Sally Apokedak said...

I totally related to Button because my father was a missionary and I'd come by boat to the US as a small girl.

I read the book twenty-five years ago and don't even remember that she wanted to be a writer, but that would have been another way I'd have related to her, because I've wanted to be a writer since I was little.

But I should read the book again. Because I thought the whole thing was a parable. I thought Button's husband was a god-figure.

Tricia Ferre said...

My Dad's aunt is actually the author of these books, so I'm glad to see people are still reading them. They are semi-autobiographical; that part of my family emigrated from Sweden a few generations ago. I'm happy to hear that even though they aren't always great books (I've read them and agree =] ) all of your readers got something out of it.

Rachel said...

Thanks for commenting, Tricia! I think my local library checks these books out frequently, too.
Your family has given you a great heritage! Very cool.