The Orphan Game by Ann Darby
A Novel

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Beautifully written, wonderfully observed, and deeply felt, Ann Darby's haunting first novel marks the debut of an important new voice in women's fiction.

A moving coming-of-age novel, The Orphan Game tells the story of a young woman's passage, from the troubled family she's longing to escape to the "family" she struggles to create when she is forced into an adulthood for which she's not prepared.

Set in a quiet Southern California town in 1965, a town where the rules of the fifties haven't quite departed and the new mores of the sixties are fast encroaching, this rueful tale is told in the intertwined voices of three women: Maggie, the young woman struggling to define herself; Marian, the mother who must relinquish her; and Mrs. Rumsen, the childless great-aunt who cares for Maggie when her mother can't. As each woman tells her tale, it becomes clear that each has, in her own way, played the orphan game--taken the risk to leave home, to claim her life, and--above all--to be loved.

As the war in Vietnam is escalating and as brush fires are blackening the California foothills, the Harris family shatters and is driven to find new ways to live with one another. With an intimacy immediate and true, The Orphan Game portrays the powerful love that can not only bind a family but can also break it apart.


About Ann Darby

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Ann Darby's short fiction has appeared in the "Northwest Review, The Malahat Review, "and "The Best of Story Quarterly, " among other journals. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart and Henfield prizes and has won the Bennett Cerf Prize for fiction. Raised in Southern California, she now lives in New York City. This is her first novel.
Published January 1, 1999 by William Morrow & Co.. 336 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Maggie has the baby and decides, looking at the way Mrs. Rumsen has made a life for herself, that it’s possible “to gather up bits and pieces of the wrecked past and make something fine of them.” Newcomer Darby tries hard to map the hostile and difficult terrain of family life, but her characters...

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Publishers Weekly

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Maggie's pregnancy turns out not to be the true tragedy for the Harrises, and Darby performs a fine philosophical turn grappling with the power of accidents and carelessness set against ""the slow drift of small influences."" Loose construction diminishes the strength of the narrative: Darby unne...

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