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Father's Arcane Daughter

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  571 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
POOR LITTLE RICH BOY Winston Carmichael has it all: a big house, servants, vacations in Palm Beach and a fancy private school. But with over protective parents and a sense of responsibility for his younger sister, Heidi, Winston sometimes feels more as if he's living in a prison than a dream.

Then, one day, a woman appears at the front door claiming to be Caroline -- Winsto
Paperback, 118 pages
Published June 1st 1999 by Aladdin Paperbacks (first published 1976)
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Obscure Children's Vintage Gems
7th out of 321 books — 71 voters
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Initial Success
85th out of 292 books — 34 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,057)
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Jubilation Lee
I’d never heard of this book until someone on a blog somewhere listed the first line as being one of their favorites ever:

Later—much, much later—when we both knew what we had bought and what it had cost, she said that I should tell it.

And while I adore EL Konigsburg with the pieces of my broken heart, this is a bizarre story. I understand why I’d never heard of it—and why it has subsequently gone out of print. Not that it necessarily should be out of print, but I spent the whole time going, “Wha
Dec 20, 2012 Keturah rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Not going to lie, I discovered this through the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie "Caroline?" which was based on this book. I had seen the movie years ago when it first aired and I was young. And the mysterious story had stuck with me through the years. So I recently re-watched the movie and enjoyed it again. In the credits, I saw it was based on this book written by E.L. Konigsburg. So I read the book. And surprisingly, the book and the movie do not differ much. The book is better, because the writin ...more
4.5 stars

Konigsburg is one of my author-heroines. The thought of her passing still saddens me.

The Konigsburg is a capital author. Her sensory descriptions don't just make you feel or see something in your head, it also makes you feel the emotions that come with the sights/sounds/feelings/tastes/smells. Her writing is clever, witty, funny, and insightful. It's rare to read YA books, especially ALA-favourited ones, that treat the reader as an intelligent being who knows how to use a dictionary an
Jan 04, 2008 Jessica rated it it was amazing
A gem of a book about a family that's wonderful on the surface, and deeply flawed within. Their shallow, pretty lives will never be the same when Caroline, their father's daughter from his previous marriage, shows up years after being kidnapped and declared dead. Is she Caroline, or is she an imposter after the family fortune? What she mostly seems interested in is helping her two half-siblings break free of their mother's smothering influence. Lovely, funny, sad and full of twists.
Feb 13, 2014 Lynn added it
Shelves: childrens
Why was this book re-titled?

If you don't know what a word means, look it up. That's what dictionaries are for. Was Ms. Konigsburg consulted before the retitling (before her death)?

The production of this book by Hallmark Hall of Fame (as Caroline?) made me find a copy and read it. I was not disappointed. But then I have yet to be disappointed by any of Ms. Konigsburg's work.

Publishers, please go back to the original title. I am so glad MY copy has it.
Hannah  Messler
Oct 05, 2015 Hannah Messler rated it really liked it
Shelves: october-2015
When I was in elementary school my stepdad brought me home a copy of Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth, which became and remains one of my very very favorite books of all-time, plus it is signed because the reason he brought it home to me is he was doing tile in her home, PLUS it is a lovely orange clothbound hardcover stamped with my old favorite dinosaur stamp I used to have.
Then yesterday me and Joe and Carmen were in this thrift store up here and it was a real d
Mar 27, 2015 Gwen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-fiction
I read--and loved--this as a middle schooler, and I'm pretty confident that I completely missed the finer plot points as a 12 year old. (Is this book really meant to be marketed toward middle school readers?!) Konigsburg is a fantastic writer--I was wholly sucked in by the weaving of present-day and past stories, and the reveal (view spoiler) got me, as I'm sure it did as a younger reader. I had to go ba ...more
Oct 22, 2007 Maria added it
You know, I did read this, but I have no recollection whatsoever.
Lissa Notreallywolf
Aug 27, 2011 Lissa Notreallywolf rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya
I gave this a very high rating awhile back and did not bother to explain myself. It remains one of my favorite books of all time because the arcane daughter explains to the brother that he will not be able to reach his his highest goal if his disabled sister is not enabled to reach hers. The sister appears to be partially disabled by birth:hearing an, speech and coordination issues, but her condition is exacerbated by neglect. The "arcane daughter" appears and has her assessed by a specialist, a ...more
Claire Scott
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 24, 2012 Ryan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always feel like I'm eating a rich, savory dish with some lovely, complicated sauce when I read Konigsburg. There is a sense of balance to the words, the thoughts, and the plot and characters don't assault the senses. You have to eat slowly, even though its a short book.

In this story, Winston's tightly regulated and privileged world is unwound when his half-sister suddenly appears after years. Caroline is a breath of fresh air, though, and both Winston and his younger sister, Hillary (aka Heid
Aug 01, 2013 Allison rated it liked it
I'm a fan of E.L. Konigsburg and often cite "From the Mixed-Up Files" as one of the most influential books of my childhood.
Unfamiliar with this title, I found this story transporting me back to one of my earliest television memories--the 1974 kidnapping of Patricia Hearst. ("Father's Arcane Daughter was originally published in 1976 so the kidnapping of an heiress would have been a timely plot line and in fact the book was the basis of an Emmy-winning Hallmark Hall of Fame movie).
This story cont
Jill Chomowicz
e.l. konigsburg has long been one of my favorite 'tween' authors. I read this over the summer - another short, quick read. I give it three stars - remembering that it was written well (is konigsburg capable of anything less?); however, I don't even remember the plot.
Katie Fitzgerald
While, this isn't my favorite Konigsburg book, it's the only one I've read so far in this little exercise that gave me a little thrill of excitement when I reached the ending. It takes a strange turn in the last 30 pages or so, which I think keeps it from achieving the greatness of Konigsburg's more famous novels, but it was still quite good. I also think, even though the book is dated, kids might be more accepting of it, because it is intended to take place during a very specific year, which is ...more
For some reason, this YA novel by E.L. Konigsburg was totally unknown to me until my husband sent me a link with some of the more interesting pieces written for kids over the years.

Winston Carmichael is the younger brother of the long lost Caroline Carmichael, who reappears years after being kidnapped. Is she the real Caroline or an imposter? Regardless of her story or whether or not she is who she says she is, Caroline becomes a lifeline and system of support to Winston and his younger sister,
Feb 20, 2016 caitiemma rated it really liked it
I love E.L. Konigsburg, she's one of my favorite authors.
I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't like this book as much as her other ones.
But it was definitely still a really great read.
I especially loved the plot twist at the end, I did not see that coming.
Marissa Morrison
Mar 26, 2014 Marissa Morrison rated it it was amazing
Among all the crap on T.V. that I watched as a kid, there was a memorable, poignant Hallmark Hall of Fame movie based on this book. Set in Pittsburgh, the story highlights empathy and connectedness.
Keilani Ludlow
Like "Silent to the Bone" and "George, this is one of her books that are more about the twist than the quirk. When Winston's long-lost, presumed to be dead, half sister shows up at their front door, life will never be the same.

This books plays with your head. Is she legit? Is she who she claims to be? As she befriends her siblings and begins to change their lives, the reader bites their lip in nervousness a bit because it could be so good or so bad in the long run.

The twist at the end is not en
May 11, 2014 Jamie rated it really liked it
Wasn't sure I liked this in the beginning, but it wrapped up nicely and had a good lesson without coming across as preachy. Will definitely recommend it to kids (and adults!).
Later republished as MY FATHER'S DAUGHTER, FATHER'S ARCANE DAUGHTER is a layered tale that will have you reading all of the author's other books. Intriguing.
Dec 15, 2008 Kelley rated it it was amazing
I remember seeing the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie based on this book and that I always wanted to read it. Stephanie Zimbalist played Caroline. I didn't really remember the details or that it took place in Pittsburgh. I was very familiar with the landmarks/locales in the story which always adds appeal. I was glad i took the time to read it finally. I won't spoil it by revealing the twist but I did recall the main idea of it. I was interested to see what the reasoning behid it was and what the out ...more
Jeff Howard
Aug 23, 2014 Jeff Howard rated it liked it
i feel like this was one of Konigsburg's more "out there" novels. i remember getting frustrated because i couldn't understand this one
Jan 25, 2014 Rhonda rated it really liked it
A terrific mystery which may be out of print. The Hallmark movie "Caroline" is based on it. Don't want to give away any plot points, but this is definitely a book that stays with you long after you put it down.
Lisa the Librarian
Jul 16, 2009 Lisa the Librarian rated it liked it
Recommended to Lisa by: I'm a fan of the author
The word "arcane" from the title means "known or understood by very few; mysterious"

The way that this story unfolds is interesting. It takes the word "arcane" and runs with it. As you read you find yourself wondering what exactly is going on with this family because rather than telling you many of the details it just gives little hints through the first 90% of the book then bigger hints and finally pretty full explainations.

I enjoyed it, but it is not my favorite by this accomplished author
Nov 06, 2010 Lee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
I read this as kid because I was attracted to the mysterious title, Father's Arcane Daughter. I guess the current attitude is that kids will reject what they don't understand, because they changed the title, which is now lame. And really the whole book is very out of time; the parameters for middle grade books are completely different now. I enjoyed the mystery and the truly adult story that I'm sure went over my head when I was 8-12 years old and the intended audience.
Jan 13, 2013 Amy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: middle school and older
Joseph is reading for his "mystery" book assignment. I read this years ago and enjoyed it even more this time than the first time. I finished it and started flipping forward again to locate more of the clues.
Joseph is enjoying it and trying to guess whether or not Caroline is the original and authentic kidnapped
daughter, now returned at age 35.
Some wonderful, ethical questions arise and I look forward to some decent discussion after my son finishes the book, too.
girl writing
Nov 13, 2011 girl writing rated it really liked it
I first read this when I was very young and am not sure I understood it but it stayed with me all these years as one of my favorites. I bought a copy several years ago and just reread it last night. Great story and the effect of having a conversation that's taking place in the future at the start of each chapter was really engrossing. This author has a great twist on everything she writes. This would be a good/quick book club read and would generate some discussion.
May 04, 2013 Jeffrey rated it it was amazing
A wow book - like Konigburg's View from Saturday, it takes a little while for this book to fall into place but when it does oh my my! Tackling issues as diverse as class privilege and ability, Konigsburg's story of the complicated relationships between brothers and sisters is stunning. And how can you not adore a writer who uses the classic French film, Secret Games, in a book for pre-teen readers - this book was a real surprise - and a wonderfully insightful one at that!
Sep 19, 2011 Elisabeth rated it really liked it
My favorite things about this book: The copy I read is old and kind of ugly - but something I know I would have gravitated to in our neighborhood bookmobile. I felt nostalgic about it from the beginning. It is by E.L. Konigsburg and I hadn't read it yet. The main character is laugh aloud funny. Full of wonderful language gems and well plotted twists. This would make a really interesting movie if you kept to the time period and fleshed it out a little.
Laken Scott
Feb 15, 2016 Laken Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shelf-3b
I really enjoyed this book!

It's really short, one of those books you can read in a day. The plot is great and the character development is some of the best I've ever seen!

The writing did however get confusing at times, which is why it got 4 stars instead of 5.
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Elaine Lobl Konigsburg was an American author and illustrator of children's books and young adult fiction. She was the only author to win the Newbery Medal and a Newbery Honor in the same year (1968), with her second and first books respectively: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth. Kongisburg won a second Newbery ...more
More about E.L. Konigsburg...

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