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The Daughters: A Novel
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Liveright 2015
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An NPR Best Book of the Year

Winner of the 2015 PEN Southwest Book Award

Shortlisted for the IAFA Crawford Award


"Endlessly powerful. . . . Here is one you should not miss, a gratifying feast in lush, lyrical, and full-throated form." —NPR.org


Lulu can't sing. Since the traumatic birth of her daughter, the internationally renowned soprano hasn't dared utter a note. She's afraid that her body is too fragile and that she may have lost her talent to a long-dreaded curse afflicting all of the mothers in her family.


When Lulu was a child, her strong-willed grandmother Ada filled her head with fables of the family's enchanted history in the Polish countryside. A fantastical lore took hold—an incantatory mix of young love, desperate hope, and one sinister bargain that altered the family's history forever. Since that fateful pact, Ada tells Lulu, each mother in their family has been given a daughter, but each daughter has exacted an essential cost from her mother.


Ada was the first to recognize young Lulu's transcendent talent, spotting it early on in their cramped Chicago apartment, then watching her granddaughter ascend to dizzying heights in packed international concert halls. But as the curse predicted, Lulu's mother, a sultry and elusive jazz singer, disappeared into her bitterness in the face of Lulu's superior talent—before disappearing from her family's life altogether. Now, in the early days of her own daughter's life, Lulu now finds herself weighing her overwhelming love for her child against the burden of her family's past.


In incandescent prose, debut novelist Adrienne Celt skillfully intertwines the sensuous but precise physicality of both motherhood and music. She infuses The Daughters with the spirit of the rusalka, a bewitching figure of Polish mythology that inspired Dvorák's classic opera. The result is a tapestry of secrets, affairs, and unimaginable sacrifices, revealing a family legacy laced with brilliance, tragedy, and most mysterious and seductive of all—the resonant ancestral lore that binds each mother to the one that came before.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
08/03/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781631490460
ASIN:
B00OD8Z1XQ

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APA Citation (style guide)

Adrienne Celt. (2015). The Daughters: A Novel. Liveright.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Adrienne Celt. 2015. The Daughters: A Novel. Liveright.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Adrienne Celt, The Daughters: A Novel. Liveright, 2015.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Adrienne Celt. The Daughters: A Novel. Liveright, 2015.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.

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Date Updated:
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      • bioText: Adrienne Celt's work has been published in Esquire, the Kenyon Review, the Rumpus, and elsewhere, and she holds an MFA from Arizona State University. Her work has been awarded the PEN Southwest Book Award, an O. Henry Story Prize, and a Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.
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title
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fullDescription

An NPR Best Book of the Year
Winner of the 2015 PEN Southwest Book Award
Shortlisted for the IAFA Crawford Award

"Endlessly powerful. . . . Here is one you should not miss, a gratifying feast in lush, lyrical, and full-throated form." —NPR.org

Lulu can't sing. Since the traumatic birth of her daughter, the internationally renowned soprano hasn't dared utter a note. She's afraid that her body is too fragile and that she may have lost her talent to a long-dreaded curse afflicting all of the mothers in her family.

When Lulu was a child, her strong-willed grandmother Ada filled her head with fables of the family's enchanted history in the Polish countryside. A fantastical lore took hold—an incantatory mix of young love, desperate hope, and one sinister bargain that altered the family's history forever. Since that fateful pact, Ada tells Lulu, each mother in their family has been given a daughter, but each daughter has exacted an essential cost from her mother.

Ada was the first to recognize young Lulu's transcendent talent, spotting it early on in their cramped Chicago apartment, then watching her granddaughter ascend to dizzying heights in packed international concert halls. But as the curse predicted, Lulu's mother, a sultry and elusive jazz singer, disappeared into her bitterness in the face of Lulu's superior talent—before disappearing from her family's life altogether. Now, in the early days of her own daughter's life, Lulu now finds herself weighing her overwhelming love for her child against the burden of her family's past.

In incandescent prose, debut novelist Adrienne Celt skillfully intertwines the sensuous but precise physicality of both motherhood and music. She infuses The Daughters with the spirit of the rusalka, a bewitching figure of Polish mythology that inspired Dvorák's classic opera. The result is a tapestry of secrets, affairs, and unimaginable sacrifices, revealing a family legacy laced with brilliance, tragedy, and most mysterious and seductive of all—the resonant ancestral lore that binds each mother to the one that came before.

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Sarah Meyer;O Magazine
      • content: [A] lyrical debut novel about the perplexing riddle of inheritance.
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly
      • content: Short story and comics creator Celt interweaves themes of music, motherhood, and myth in her lyrical debut novel.... The novel's luminous prose, subtle structure, and rich contrast between present-day Chicago and Old World folklore help craft a resonant meditation on the way our stories at once shape and sabotage our lives.
      • premium: False
      • source: Sarah McCoy, New York Times and international best-selling author of The Mapmaker's Children
      • content: A story libretto that commands attention from the opening scene. Celt has crafted a modern fairy tale that had me up from my chair in standing ovation.
      • premium: False
      • source: Katie Coyle, author of Vivian Apple at the End of the World
      • content: Gorgeous. The Daughters is lush and dreamy and strange, and it will make you feel like a beautiful witch has put you under a sinister spell.
      • premium: False
      • source: Arizona Daily Star
      • content: Filled with lyricism and imagery, this stunning debut novel...is sure to delight fans of magical realism.
      • premium: False
      • source: Caitlin Horrocks, author of This is Not Your City
      • content: A lush song of a book that understands the intertwined beauty and fear of motherhood and daughterhood.
      • premium: False
      • source: Sarah Cornwell, author of What I Had Before I Had You
      • content: Brimming with sad, delicious folklore and echoing with the voices of five generations of mothers and daughters in a family shaped by music as much as by tragedy, Celt's debut is enchanting.
      • premium: False
      • source: Rachel Fershleiser
      • content: [A] dazzling debut...The Daughters is about motherhood and daughterhood, of course, but also relationships and fidelity and music and ambition and talent and compromise and scary-ass Polish folktale witchery.
      • premium: False
      • source: Liberty Hardy;Book Riot
      • content: [D]azzling.... Bouncing back and forth between past and present, The Daughters is a gorgeous, riveting story about family, mythology, and curses. Its dark, dizzying magic practically sings off the page.
      • premium: False
      • source: Jenn Fields;Denver Post
      • content: The journey through song and myth, the cost of motherhood and the price of passion, ... will resonate long after the last page.
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        June 22, 2015
        Short story and comics creator Celt interweaves themes of music, motherhood, and myth in her lyrical debut novel. It centers on five generations of a family, specifically the women, all musical and all in some way fatherless. The day her first child is born, successful opera singer Lulu loses her beloved Polish grandmother. After Lulu’s troubled mother, Sara, disappeared when Lulu was nine, grandmother Ada raised the girl, nurturing her promising voice and offering a sense of heritage through vivid tales about Lulu’s great-grandmother Greta. Now an injury sustained during her own daughter’s birth puts a halt to the singing that has driven Lulu’s life and career, while a guilty secret jeopardizes her marriage. The simultaneous birth and losses seem to affirm the family curse: that Greta’s female descendants will each have a daughter of superior musical gifts, but only at a heavy cost. As Lulu nurtures baby Kara and herself, she revisits the conflicting family histories her mother and grandmother have shared and their messages about female legacy, power, and longing. But whether she can heal her family wounds, either past or present, Lulu can’t yet tell. The novel’s luminous prose, subtle structure, and rich contrast between present-day Chicago and Old World folklore help craft a resonant meditation on the way our stories at once shape and sabotage our lives.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        June 15, 2015

        Lulu, an acclaimed and talented opera singer, is a new mother with a secret: the father of her baby daughter is not her dependable husband, John, but a rich and mysterious opera lover who hired her to perform at his birthday party in the desert. Lulu senses that she is carrying on a family curse begun in the Polish countryside by her great-grandmother Greta, who, according to the tales of Lulu's beloved grandmother Ada, made a Faustian pact with the devil after delivering five stillborn girls. Lulu is pulled between the magic and mystery of Ada's family histories and her mother, Sara's, dismissal of the tales, in favor of cold facts. Ada's mythical stories make Lulu feel special and chosen for greatness and form the backdrop of her childhood in Chicago, especially after Sara, an alcoholic jazz singer, abandons the family. It was Greta's magic that "set our family line in motion: women who came from women, women who came with music." VERDICT A lyrical and poetic debut about the strength of storytelling and mother-daughter love that will appeal to fans of magic realism. [See Prepub Alert, 2/9/15.]--Lauren Gilbert, Sachem P.L., Holbrook, NY

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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An NPR Best Book of the Year
Winner of the 2015 PEN Southwest Book Award
Shortlisted for the IAFA Crawford Award

"Endlessly powerful. . . . Here is one you should not miss, a gratifying feast in lush, lyrical, and full-throated form." —NPR.org

Lulu can't sing. Since the traumatic birth of her daughter, the internationally renowned soprano hasn't dared utter a note. She's afraid that her body is too fragile and that she may have lost her talent to a long-dreaded curse afflicting all of the mothers in her family.

When Lulu was a child, her strong-willed grandmother Ada filled her head with fables of the family's enchanted history in the Polish countryside. A fantastical lore took hold—an incantatory mix of young love, desperate hope, and one sinister bargain that altered the family's history forever. Since that fateful pact, Ada tells Lulu, each mother in their family has been given a daughter, but each...

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bisacCodes
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      • description: Fiction / Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology
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