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Father's Arcane Daughter

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  732 Ratings  ·  90 Reviews
Kidnapped seventeen years before, a man's daughter by a former marriage appears at his new home in Pittsburgh and affects the entire family.
Hardcover, 118 pages
Published July 1st 1976 by Atheneum Books (first published 1976)
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QNPoohBear
In 1952 Winston Elliot Carmichael has the best of everything that money can buy: a nice house with servants, an excellent education, clothing, parents who love him. There's the rub, as Shakespeare wrote. Winston has a little too MUCH parental love and it is smothering him. He's not allowed to go anywhere alone or do anything and spends much of his week looking after his little sister Heidi, who unlike her nickname, is not cute and sweet. Heidi is hard of hearing, poorly coordinated and super ann ...more
Katie Fitzgerald
Mar 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom.

Father's Arcane Daughter was originally published in 1976. In 2008, it was re-released with a slightly altered title, My Father's Daughter.

The narrator of the story is Winston Carmichael, a privileged kid living in a household filled with hired help. His mother, Grace, babies his little sister,
Heidi, to hide the fact that she has some disabilities, and his father, who has been married before, has a daughter, Caroline who was kidnapped as a te
...more
Keturah
Dec 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lynn
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.
River Song
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-gelesen
17 Jahre nach ihrer Entführung kehrt die älteste Tochter nach Hause zurück. Während der Vater sie mit offenen Armen empfängt, reagieren ihre Stiefmutter und die Halbgeschwister mit Eifersucht und Misstrauen.

Ein intelligentes und spannendes Buch für Jugendliche und erwachse Leser von einer in Deutschland leider kaum bekannten Autorin.

Gwen
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jessica
Jan 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Cynthia Egbert
Dec 31, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
I agree that this one should have stayed titled "Father's Arcane Daughter", I don't know why it was changed but I don't like the change. This one was was intriguing and actually gets 3.5 stars from me. It certainly did offer a great deal in only a few pages. It definitely gets you to thinking of the effect your attitudes and biases have on others, especially your children.

A couple of quotes that tickled me:

"And she was not like certain relatives of mine who gave me books as gifts - books that I
...more
Claire
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Onysha
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
...more
Cheryl
Sep 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Intense. Merits an immediate reread, once the plot has been deciphered.

I bet a lot of readers, the first time through, miss bits like "Caroline was waiting for me in the breakfast room.... What right had she to deprive me of the only time... when I could be totally alone? ... nobody's brother and nobody's son and nobody's pupil. What an awful thing for her to do, to come between the Winston and the Carmichael."

Be good for discussion groups. Do schools ever have buddy reads, to enable mini book-
...more
Michael Fitzgerald
Jul 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love how this is a book of just 118 pages, but with so much depth. Every page is essential and the reader is engaged, even to the end of that crucial very last page. Konigsburg does more in this brief span than all the newer YA authors who invariably need 300+ pages.

Konigsburg does a wonderful job of creating a unique narrator and of setting up the intriguing situation. The Pittsburgh setting is good - it's got character. The early 1950s period is brought to life through recollections after so
...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
I've about given up on E. L. Konigsburg. I find few of her characters sympathetic, and none in this...well, whatever it is. Novella? Long story?
This text reminded me strongly of Shirley Jackson's short story "Louisa, Please Come Home" except of course Jackson is a much better writer, showing instead of telling. This is mostly tell, and the telling is choppy and...well, "coy" is the only word I can come up with. I felt the whole time that I was being manipulated by the author, and it's not a feel
...more
Amy • A Magical World of Words
It was original and thought-provoking, but otherwise I'm sorry to say I found the characters very annoying and the story quite boring. It wasn't my kind of book at all.
Lissa Notreallywolf
Apr 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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, speech and coordination issues, but her condition is exacerbated by neglect. The "arcane daughter" appears and has her assessed by a specialist, and ...more
Heather
Jul 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have a vague memory of trying to read this in sixth grade because I was intrigued by it, but I remember feeling like I just wasn't "getting it". I re-read it a couple of days ago, and it was so compelling, I read it straight through (it's not a long book).

I found this to be a very moving story, nicely crafted and paced, with just a bit of mystery to keep the plot interesting. As a kid, a lot of the behavior of the adults mystified me. I wasn't an especially insightful or perceptive kid, so tha
...more
Ray
Apr 28, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am a sucker for Konigsburg but this was one of her weaker works. You can see some ideas and themes being worked out here that she did a better job of tackling later on. Still worth a read for the mood she evokes.
Melissa
Very different from Konigsburg's other books, and it really struck me as an adult novella, rather than a young adult novel. Though my memories of the tv movie are dim, it all seemed to match up quite nicely in my head. A fun read, but not anywhere near the level of Konigsburg's best work.
Maria
You know, I did read this, but I have no recollection whatsoever.
Ruth E. R.
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Louie
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good and unexpected.
Kayla
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this under the title "My Father's Daughter" so finding it's titled "Father's Arcane Daughter" here was a little weird.
R. G. Nairam
???

Konigsburg wrote more weird stuff than I realized.
Ryan
Jun 24, 2012 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
...more
Allison
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
...more
Hannah Garden
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Gretyl
Jan 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: juv
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stacy
Sep 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
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,
...more
Elisheva Rina
Winston is a smart and serious seventh grader in 1952. He describes his younger sister, who has motor difficulties, is hearing impaired, and is emotionally delayed for her age, as "amoebalike," "cenazoic," and "a monkey," among other terms. I found it off-putting at first, but I guess that's how resentful brothers are. (In general, this book has a very high vocabulary--if that's the right was to put it.) I didn't really understand why Winston feels like he's in a "prison" because he feels obliga ...more
Kelley
Dec 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
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