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Life with Father

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  906 ratings  ·  51 reviews
When the delicious comic tales that make up Life with Father first appeared in the early 1930s, they played a large hand in keeping afloat a fledgling magazine called The New Yorker. Clarence Day's reminiscences of growing up in a turn-of-the-century New York household which keeps wriggling out from under the thumb of a blustering Wall Street paterfamilias are classics of...more
Hardcover, 168 pages
Published January 30th 2005 by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers (first published 1920)
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Best Memoir / Biography / Autobiography
304th out of 2,481 books — 2,855 voters
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Best Humorous Books
488th out of 2,473 books — 4,790 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,511)
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Melee
I always read with sick fascination those [true] stories of eccentric, overbearing fathers (The Mitford's Farve, Cheaper by the Dozen's Mr. Gilbreth). Clarence Day Sr. fits very well on that list, no question. Reading those books with "those fathers" always makes me thankful that my father is not so overwhelmingly obsessed with things being just so.

The main reason I read this is because I like the movie. While the book was just as amusing, it did lack one thing: William Powell. (Does this compl...more
Alicia
I picked up this old yellowing book from a "free book" shelf, because I remember my dad liking the movie of it. The book is similar to Cheaper by the Dozen (which I love), but I don't like how domineering Mr. Day is. I enjoyed reading about daily life over a hundred years ago, including what the children played, what it was like for the family when telephones were first invented, and what it was like to ride the train to the Chicago World's Fair.
Rob Slaven
Having long been a fan of the 1947 movie of the same name, reading this book was long, long overdue for me. While reading along I couldn’t help but imagine the cherished William Powell and Irene Dunne having at each other. It does make me wonder how the story would have struck me without the pretext of the movie to look back on with such strong visuals.

The Clarence Sr. of the movie is tempestuous and cantankerous of nature but fundamentally one is left with a positive impression. The viewer neve...more
Karen
This book was written as a series of magazine articles during the 1920s that were later collected into this book and published in 1935. The author, Clarence Day, writes about his father, who was a unique character. Each chapter focuses on a quirky event related to or characteristic of his father. The chapter headings are a good reflection of the humorous nature of this book -- "Father Has Trouble with the Land of Egypt"; "Father Interferes with the Twenty-third Psalm"; "Father and the Crusader's...more
Joy
Was this ever a fun book! It was a re-read from years ago. I like the father -- very opinionated, intolerant of problems, and just a huge personality. The amazing thing was that his son, who wrote the book, loved and understood his father. For that I should have given the book a 5-star rating.

"Father got annoyed at us when we didn't stay well. He usually stayed well himself and he expected us to be like him, and not faint and slump on his hands and thus add to his burdens."

(His shirt) was beginn...more
Priscilla
"Life With Father" by Clarence Day Jr. is a true story about the daily life of a red-headed, New York family in the late 1800's. Each chapter reveals a different incident or characteristic in "Father's" life, making it easy to read either "on-the-go" or all at once. The Author remembers "Father" from a child's perspective, adding hilarity to every chapter as Father continuously loses his temper or forces his views and ego on everyone around him. "Father" rules the house and the money, but "Mothe...more
Laura
I would give this book a five for humor, a four for the concept of the book and the execution of the concept, a 1 for theology, and a 2 for language ('Father' from the title was too fond of one word in particular.....).

The book really was hilarious, though. Several times my mom caught me silently giggling to myself, and then I would read the part to her and she would laugh too. My favorite of the short stories was 'The Noblest Instrument', which I first read in Abeka's 'Themes in Literature'....more
g026r
Jan 03, 2010 g026r rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009, 2010
Humour, no matter how understated, often has a tendency to age poorly. Life with Father is a good case in point, in that the stubborn but lovable central character no longer seems quite so lovable 75 years later, and the humorous anecdotes now seem more like living under the tyrannical decrees of a spoiled and petulant man-child.

There were still flashes of humour and it remains an (albeit exaggerated) window into a bygone age, no doubt, but even the normally sublime and sedated New Yorker style...more
Robin
Episodic book about a boy's 'life with father' (and mother, three brothers and a few servants) as he grows up in the years from the 1870s to WWI era.

All I can say is that Father seems like a selfish egotist, always yelling his head off about something or other, wanting his way and only his way, and moaning and groaning if he doesn't get it. Yes, a few tender moments show through, and I do think that Father couldn't have been as bad as all that or his son wouldn't've remembered him so fondly as t...more
Alger
The stories are misty rosy tinted anecdotes of New York's upper crust in the Gay 90's.

With just enough humor to soften the very sharp edges of Mr Day, and enough life lessons to fuel a sitcom, Life With Father is a deserved classic.
Rhonda
If you are tired of your daily life, this little book of lively and sometimes farcical stories will drag you into the simple past of days gone by. "Life With Father" is set in the time when a father was the lord of his castle and the rest of the family were second class citizens. The women of this era are not allowed to have bank accounts and a child's destiny is decided by Father. (Well at least which musical instrument they will learn to play.) This little book is very funny and sometimes touc...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
I loved this little book.
Author Clarence Day tells
stories of his family,
the redheaded and high
spirited Days, from the
1880's to the early years
of the twentieth century.
Father, a plain spoken man
who issued commands and
expected them to be instantly
obeyed, is a delightful
character. Recommended.
Valerie
It took me a while to realize that this book is mostly about the rest of the family, and how they manipulated the autocratic 'Father' into leaving them to their own lives while appearing to let him have his way.

Seems a bit over-elaborate to me. Ok, so they essentially regarded him as fragile and incompetent, and they felt they had to at least appear to cater to his whims to protect him. But they didn't necessarily help him by doing that. I suppose it's one way to keep peace in the household--but...more
Rose Ann
Hilarious and charming. Loved it!
Kelly (TheWellReadRedhead)
My mom stumbled across this book while she was staying at a bed and breakfast. She read it during the weekend of her stay, and immediately came home and bought a copy for me for Christmas. I was a little skeptical of how humorous I would find a book written in the 1930's, but I have to say, I loved it! The humor is sometimes subtle, sometimes ironic, but overall timeless. Father kept reminding me of the dad from A Christmas Story, if that gives you any point of reference. This is a quick and fun...more
Rachel Balster
A very easy read and while set in a time that is no longer very familiar to the younger generations, I found this book very entertaining. It was a little similar to the movie, but not by much. I had expected it to be a lot closer so I found the original stories enjoyably humorous. I think my favorite was regarding the importance of having ice water or the one where Mr. Day gets sick and asks God why...lol. I would recommend the book if your library is lucky enough to still have a copy. :)
Michaela
I enjoyed this book very much. I found it to be a humorous, fast, enjoyable read. The only thing that I didn't care for in Life with Father was that his father's views on God were somewhat warped. The word 'damn' was used many times; other than that, there was nothing objectionable is this book. I would probably recommend it from the ages twelve and up. Overall, it was an enjoyable read. :)
Chanel Earl
Mar 14, 2011 Chanel Earl rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Chanel by: Diana Averill
This book was interesting. I loved how it took me to a time and place I knew very little about. I also enjoyed the characters of Father and Mother, although at times they both bothered me. I wish the whole book had had more of an arc. It felt very much like I was reading a personal journal, which I guess is what I was reading a little bit.
Srivani
for the first half of the book I thought the father was a tyrant and I wouldn't like to live in the same house as him one bit. but as the stories progressed I started to like him more and more in spite of myself. the story 'father lets in the telephone' is my favorite. lots of little vignettes like that from turn of the century new york.
TheRose
This wonderful work is even better than the movie (which I LOVE)! If you loved Cheaper By The Dozen, this one's along the same vein. I was even tempted to let Lydia read it, but Father uses the word "damn" a lot, and I don't want her exposed to that language just yet. However, for adults I would highly recommend it!
Ellie
Very quick read. I finished it in the course of a single evening. Most of the stories are hysterical, especially the ones about music and in particular the one about the violin, because my mother plays the viola, which is like a larger violin and I know what he's talking about when he says tuning it is hard.
Nathan
Jan 07, 2014 Nathan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2006
Very entertaining and light-hearted stories about upper-class life in early 20th century New York
Bianca
Not what I had originally expected - not so much a novel, more of a collection of short stories - but still a fun little in between book. Hits home with anyone who's ever had a father, grandfather or anyone particularly "particular" in their lives. Very cute and very funny, I laughed out loud a few times.
Barbara VA
This is a fun little book of vignettes telling of life in a well to do family with 4 boys in the late 1800's. Father was the dominate figure in the hime and life just wove around his desires of a house of calm order and a balanced ledger. He never had it! Loved the movie, too!
Paul Jellinek
A thoroughly enjoyeable--and often hillarious--memoir about Clarence Day's father, a larger-than-life late 19th century New York businessman. The chapter about Day's fruitless efforts to learn the violin at his father's insistence literally had me howling with laughter.
Ana
Found at a used bookstore.. intrigued me.. I am enjoying this remarkable tale of "Life with Father" I feel as if I am there with young Clarence Day.

Done - fell in love with old man Day, the bellowing headstrong head of the house, with a heart of gold. Wonderful book
Joanne G.
I liked this book so well that when I had a health issue that left me with impaired short-term memory function, I kept buying copies of the book! I have since recovered and given away the duplicates of a number of books I kept re-purchasing during that two-year span.
Libby
Life with Father is a series of vignettes of life in the 1880s and 1890s. The focus is the Day family, particularly "Father," Clarence Day, Sr. The book was originally published in 1935 by Clarence Day, Jr. Something relaxing and undemanding and pleasantly amusing.
Sarah
A very fun book portraying a young boys life and his interaction with his eccentric-like father. Definitely a fun read for you or the family. Some of the adventures and scrapes this young boy gets into will have you rolling on the floor with laughter.
Brenda
Jun 02, 2008 Brenda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Brenda by: Carolyn Manwaring
Great look into the life of an upper middle class family in the 1800s. Well written and funny. I was amazed at how the conversations and family situations sounded so contemporary even though the book was oroginally written in 1920 something.
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Life with Mother The Best of Clarence Day, Including God and My Father, Life With Father, Life With Mother, This Simian World, and Selections from Thoughts Without Words God and My Father Life with Father/Life with Mother This Simian World

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