The Prodigal Daughter
Come on – fess up. You just love a good shameless melodrama. There’s nothing quite like wallowing in a story about a bad girl who is really good, small town people with closed minds, a hunky hero who hates our heroine at first because she is rich and he was born on the wrong side of the tracks, a villain who is not only hissable but hangable, and enought angst, scandal and Big Secrets to fill a decade’s worth of movies for cable TV. If you like this (and you know you do) you will have a happy time with Ginna Gray’s The Prodigal Daughter.
Maggie Malone is the oldest daughter of the Big Family in the small town of Ruby Falls, Texas (population 3,418). The Malone cannery is the town’s only industry and it’s been in the capable hands of Jacob Malone. Jacob and his wife Lily have three daughters. Maggie is the oldest, and for years, Maggie has wanted to take over the running of the business. But for her whole life, Jacob has been cold and distant to Maggie.
When Maggie was about 13, she ran wild and gave her parents nothing but trouble for a couple of years. Then she straightened up with a vengance. She graduated class valedictorian. She got a scholarship to Yale. She graduated from Yale in four years with a bachelors degree and an MBA. Now wouldn’t you say that Maggie’s wild days are long gone? Not Jacob. When her sister’s odious fiance, Martin, tries to rape her before the wedding, Jacob catches them, Martin blames Maggie, Jacob believes him and throws her out of the family.
So Maggie goes off to New York and becomes a supermodel.
By this time, I knew this was going to be a juicy read and Ginna Gray did not disappoint. Jacob is dying of cancer and Maggie is the only one who can take over the management of the cannery. So she comes home and soon is up to her armpits in angst and problems. Jacob still seems to hate her, her sister has married the odious Martin (now a wife-beater), her youngest sister is having teen problems galore, there are attempts to sabotage the cannery and someone paints BITCH all over Maggie’s brand new Viper.
Have I forgotten anything? Oh yeah – the romance.
Dan Garnett is the plant manager. He grew up poor, started as a picker in the fields and worked his way to the top. Does he initially resent Maggie? Does a duck go quack? But as the book progresses and he sees Our Maggie in action he, begins to respect and then love her. Who wouldn’t? Based on the story, she is not only a supermodel, but superwoman as well.
I felt guilty, but unrepentant for enjoying The Prodigal Daughter as much as I did. It was so totally over the top in plotting and characters that it would cause a literary critic to have spasms. But we hoi polloi who read for fun will have a very good time with it.
Maggie’s romance with Dan takes a back seat to Maggie’s many problems with her family. Frankly, I would not have missed a romance if there had not been one. Dan is a nice guy, but this is not a traditional romance at all. The emphasis is not on Maggie and Dan and their problems, but on Maggie and her problems. Some readers might not like this, but it didn’t bother me all that much. I simply looked on the romance between Maggie and Dan as icing on the cake – one you’d buy in Peyton Place.