Daddy’s Girl

Anita Brookner

  • Fathers: Reflections by Daughters edited by Ursula Owen
    Virago, 224 pp, £5.50, November 1983, ISBN 0 86068 394 X

This disturbing, even unpleasing book arose out of a reaction from which only a nerveless and protected minority are saved. As a child, the editor, Ursula Owen, found a photograph of her father which showed him in an attitude, a guise, that seemed to her ‘uncharacteristic’. It was not simply the fact that he was a German Jew and was photographed wearing the uniform of a colonel in the British Army: that somersault was circumstantial and could be explained away in a single sentence. (As a German-speaking industrialist, he was being sent back by the British Government to make a survey of Germany’s not quite ruined industrial potential.) No, the truly disturbing and dismaying quality of the photograph, and one which was to work underground and to result many years later in this book, was conveyed by the expression on Ursula Owen’s father’s face, one which had presumably never been seen there before. ‘After a while I realised what it was; my father looked vulnerable.’

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