Dotter of her Father’s Eyes presents two coming-of-age stories, taking place at different points in the twentieth century. By intertwining these stories, I explore aspects of social history: gender politics and social expectations, shifting notions about ‘acceptable’ behaviour.
The idea for the book started when I took early retirement, giving me more time to write. Bryan suggested I try my hand at autobiographical writing, producing a graphic novel script that he would illustrate. Some previous plans of his for a collaboration had sadly fallen through, with the untimely death of the Australian narrative poet, Dorothy Porter. He suggested a couple of draft titles: ‘James Joyce and Me’ and ‘What a Piece of Work’ (actually the title of one of Porter’s books). To be honest, I was a bit bemused at the prospect of autobiography. ‘Whoever would want to know?’ I thought, ‘So, my father was a Joycean scholar, so what?’ I gave it some thought anyway and, vaguely aware that Joyce had a daughter, I looked into that as a possible angle. As it happened a biography of Lucia Joyce had come out not long before (Carol Shloss’s Lucia Joyce: To Dance at the Wake, published Farrar Straus Giroux). I was blown away by the tragedy of Lucia’s story – that was what I was interested in writing about. It’s that biography that I’m reading in this train journey scene, part of the opening sequence.