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Life with Father

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,538 Ratings  ·  68 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 1935)
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The Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellBrave New World by Aldous HuxleyOf Mice and Men by John SteinbeckThe Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Best Books of the Decade: 1930s
153rd out of 454 books — 755 voters
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne FrankThe Glass Castle by Jeannette WallsNight by Elie WieselAngela's Ashes by Frank McCourtEat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Best Memoir / Biography / Autobiography
359th out of 3,387 books — 3,886 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,700)
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Oct 07, 2011 Melee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir-bio
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
Jan 03, 2010 g026r rated it did not like it
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
Oct 26, 2009 Alicia rated it liked it
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
Apr 05, 2013 Rob Slaven rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
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
Jun 07, 2008 Karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, humor
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
Sep 10, 2012 Joy rated it really liked it
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
Oct 07, 2010 Priscilla rated it really liked it
"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 Verret
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'.
Fun slice of 1880's life and a memorable preservation of an interesting person.

Also reveals how even delightful character studies can fade with time as we evolve as a society. Looked at through the eyes of the Twenty-first Century, Mr. Day, Sr. might be termed a "narcissistic" personality type. Not being a psychologist I cannot so term him. He does seem to be amazingly unable to discern others as separate individuals, though. His wife is sick and suffering in bed and he just can't understand wh
Wayne S.
Mar 02, 2015 Wayne S. rated it really liked it
Clarence Shepard Day Jr. (November 18, 1874–December 28, 1935) grew up in New York City, NY in the 1890s and early 1900's. His father, Clarence S. “Clare” Day Sr., was a Wall Street broker. The son attended St. Paul's School and graduated from Yale University in 1896, where he edited campus humor magazine The Yale Record. The following year, he joined the New York Stock Exchange, and became a partner in his father's Wall Street brokerage firm. Day enlisted in the Navy in 1898, but developed crip ...more
Mar 07, 2013 Robin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 07, 2016 Fishface rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, memoir
A classic, and for good reasons. The author simply describes what it was like to grow up with the towering, yet slightly goofy figure of his father casting a shadow over his life. Funny and serious at the same time, written from the perspective of someone with great respect and love for his dad but also a finely-honed awareness of his flaws. This was written years before it was fashionable to hate your parents, and it reflects that.
Christine Sinclair
Go back to New York City at the turn of the century (hmm, the previous century) and get to know Clarence Day, Sr. He's one of a kind, and his son's vignettes about his quirks and peculiarities are hilarious. Vinnie, Clare's long-suffering wife, is equally amusing. The movie is a gem and that rare exception, even better than the book. Both are highly recommended.
An amazing read, I loved every moment of this wonderful read. I came across this book while watching an old William Powell movie on TCM by the same name. The father in the movie played by William Powell, was hilarious. I knew, I had to find a copy of this book. I loved the language and writing style Clarence Day Jr used while writing about his parents during the late 1800's and early 1900's. This is definitely, going on my favorites shelf.
Nov 09, 2014 Kathleen marked it as to-read
I saw the old classic 1947 movie, set in New York, 1883. The film screenplay is based on three memoirs about the Day family, particularly the autocratic father, Clarence Day, Sr. The three books were written by his son, Clarence Day, Jr., in 1935. The movie stars a teenage Elizabeth Taylor.
Διόνυσος Ελευθέριος
Clarence Day Jr.'s Life with Father is a very funny book. Ideally, it seems to me that one ought to read it when one is already in high spirits. I, on the other hand, attempted to use it periodically as a kind of pharmaceutical for when I was not of good cheer myself. The plan sometimes backfired, though not in its own unfunny way as I became irritated by Clarence Sr. and all his obnoxious behavior and his reactions to the world around him. I sometimes became demanding about his being demanding. ...more
Feb 12, 2014 Alger rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 24, 2016 Prashanth marked it as to-read
I saw the old 1947 classic movie based on this book starring Elizabeth Taylor on YouTube. It's a memoir about Clarence days family and the autocratic stingy father. Very lovable and humorous. Hope the book is as good as the movie
Dec 23, 2014 Adrian rated it liked it
I was just given some old books by an old woman. This was written in the early 1900s; and it's in the vein of Cheaper By The Dozen - funny stories about a father/son relationship.
Jun 12, 2016 Laura rated it liked it
Not sure I liked it at first, as Father was blustery, self-important, and rude. As it went on, however, I recognized bits of my own father and grandfathers, which personalized Father more.
Basil D
Jan 19, 2016 Basil D rated it really liked it
Skip the first couple of chapters, the next few (regarding illness and ice) are undoubtedly the best, and the quality is steady from there on.
Lee Yahnker
Feb 13, 2015 Lee Yahnker rated it really liked it
Cute story. It's amazing how life has changed in some ways but the story is a quick read. Maybe life was easier and better years ago? or maybe not.
Jul 23, 2010 Rhonda rated it really liked it
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
Jul 25, 2009 Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance rated it really liked it
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.
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
Rose Ann
May 30, 2014 Rose Ann rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 03, 2012 Rachel rated it really liked it
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 I would recommend the book if your library is lucky enough to still have a copy. :)
Jun 20, 2013 Michaela rated it really liked it
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 liked it
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.
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“Every month when the bills came in, there was trouble. Mother seemed to have no great extravagances. But she loved pretty things. She had a passion for china, for instance. She saw hundreds of beautiful cups and saucers that it was hard to walk away from and leave. She knew she couldn't buy them, and mustn't, but every so often she did. No one purchase seemed large by itself, but they kept mounting up, and Father declared that she bought more china than the Windsor Hotel.” 1 likes
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