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The Shadow Man: A Daughter's Search for Her Father

3.33  ·  Rating Details  ·  117 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
In The Shadow Man, the bestselling author of Final Payments and The Company of Women elevates the memoir into an uncompromising and unforgettable art form as she seeks to learn the truth about her lost father. 20 photos.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 29th 1997 by Vintage (first published April 30th 1996)
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Luanne Castle
Nov 17, 2014 Luanne Castle rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
Mary Gordon actually spends a fair amount of time detailing her research in the library and in contacting strangers. The reader gets to participate in the research process. This is like following Nancy Drew’s progress in solving a mystery–albeit without the imprisonment in the cistern, tarantula/black widow spider, etc.

The twist in Gordon’s book is that Mary Gordon was raised Catholic by her parents, although her father was born Jewish. But he had become a (IMO dangerous) anti-Semite and this ma
Sally Atwell Williams
I found this book to be a little hard to read in places. While Mary Gordon search for her father brought up many things that she did not know about, I found her first section tiring, because of all the references of her love for him, and his for her. Very little attention was given to her mother in this section, and it is only at nearly the end of the book, when Gordon mentions her mother.

I think that Mr. Gordon was too much touted as being a handsome, fun loving, father and person. I found him
Nov 06, 2010 Laurel-Rain rated it really liked it
Author Mary Gordon's father died when she was seven years old. For a long time, this fact seemed to be a defining aspect of her life. She was happy to think of him in terms of the man who loved her "more than God" and then disappeared. But thirty years later, she begins a quest to find out who her father really was.

Her search takes her to libraries, archives, and her own memory, but what she learns on this journey begins to test her credulity and her view of the man. Her many discoveries include
Jun 22, 2011 Ann rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
I read Circling My Mother first, even though it was written later but that was the best order for me. The author is "gob-smacked" by what she discovers about her father. He father died when she was 7 and until she was in her 40s she had a fantasy built up around her memories. Much of the book is her attempt to reconcile what she learns about her father and the great love she has always felt toward his memory. Her grief is palpable and at times almost makes the reader uncomfortable. Sometimes I w ...more
Dec 13, 2012 Diane rated it liked it
The book traces Gordon's attempt to learn about and understand her father who died when she was 7. A Jew who converted to Catholicism, he is a more elusive character than she ever imagined when she began her search. She discovers that his life was not what she had believed. The most shocking revelation was that he wrote for antisemitic publications in the 1930s. Ultimately she cannot resolve the puzzle of his life. The book is honest about the limitations of understanding another life, even that ...more
Oct 24, 2014 Sophiebird rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: neurotic women who have lost a father in childhood
Shelves: meh
Well, I was torn as to how to rate this book. I almost wanted to give it three stars or so only because I got such a laugh at the foolishness of it all. Sure it is traumatic to lose a parent at such a young age, but, if I may be so cruel: Get over it. Move on! Focus on your family and children rather than dedicating your life to the past.

She focuses on such minutia of her life - watching herself perform almost.

More to follow with this review, but alas, I must read through it again to find the
Apr 28, 2012 Susan rated it really liked it
Mary Gordon, author of in the Company of Women, lost her beloved father to a heart attack when she was seven years old. Thirty years later she sets out to find out who he was - she got more than she bargained for. All that she knew about her father - only child, Harvard man, pious Christian - were a sham. Her search becomes an obsession and her struggle to reconcile the adoring father she knows with the flawed man she finds makes for a great memoir.
Feb 21, 2013 Carol rated it liked it
This book is absorbing and very disturbing. I kept wanting to shake Mary Gordon and remind her that she has a husband and children and that while her relationship to her dead father is important, life does go on. Several times I almost put the book down--but her writing is really engaging and troubling. It did serve the purpose of making me think of the ways in which my parents both brought me into the world and released me to live in it.
Rena Mayberry
Sep 25, 2009 Rena Mayberry rated it liked it
Ambiguity must be very difficult to convey in prose. Gordon manages very well. Worth reading by people who are seeking truth about a parent or other hallowed figure from their past. How to love a parent whose life was not lived honestly; how to consider the reasons a loved one turns out to be not only disappointing as a public person, but full of hate.

Jul 25, 2012 Susan rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
After reading two of her novels, I wanted to learn more about Mary Gordon. This is a very moving and well written memoir about her search for information about the father who dies when she was a little girl. It turns out that everything she "knew" about him was false - background, education, religion - and what she discovers opens new worlds for her.
Diana Lankford
Jan 18, 2015 Diana Lankford rated it it was ok
While the writing is beautiful, I find it disturbing that she can put her father on such a high pedestal. Ultimately, it made the story less enjoyable for me. Also I found chapters toward the end confusing: out of context to the premise of the book and did not add to the story.
Mar 08, 2008 David rated it it was amazing
A memoir of Ms. Gordon trying to discover the secrets of her father. A devout Catholic who converted from Judaism. Very moving and insightful.
Jun 11, 2008 G rated it really liked it
Shelves: high-caliber
Gordon tackles her father's story from all angles, some more successful than others, but it is a continually perceptive and probing book.
Jan 16, 2009 Holly rated it liked it
Gordon's a good writer, but this account of her father gets a little whiney and "poor me."
Jun 14, 2009 Corinne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mary Gordon is an excellent writer.
Aug 24, 2007 Kate rated it it was ok
Confusing. Jumps around in time.
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Mary Gordon was born in Far Rockaway, New York, to Anna Gagliano Gordon, an Italian-Irish Catholic mother, and David Gordon, a Jewish father who converted to Catholicism. While growing up, she attended Holy Name of Mary School in Valley Stream and for high school attended The Mary Louis Academy in Jamaica, N.Y.. She is Catholic.

She received her A.B. from Barnard College in 1971, and her M.A. from
More about Mary Gordon...

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