Daddy's Girl

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Tina Sinatra

"Most parents reside on pedestals, and if Dad's had been a little higher than the norm, he had that much farther to fall." So writes Tina Sinatra (with Jeff Coplon) in "My Father's Daughter" (Simon & Schuster; 313 pages; $26), her affectionate but clear-eyed memoir about life with Frank. The thought continues: "I could accept him as just a man. But he'd stood so large in my eyes that I couldn't bear to see him smaller than life."

Yeah, me neither, says the reader, presumably a Frank Sinatra fan, elsewise he or she would be reading Margaret Salinger's book. Unlike Salinger, Tina isn't out to keelhaul her father, at least not consciously. "He was a man who all his life looked outside for what was missing inside," she concludes at one point. Still, you hate to see the Chairman of the Board reduced to the level of a case study for an Oprah segment.

Read this book not for its epic retelling of his long descent into dementia or its ax-grinding with the singer's fourth wife, Barbara Marx, but for its thoughtful, sometimes moving recollections of growing up as Beverly Hills–Palm Springs royalty with an intermittently available father whose flaws cast very long shadows. Though there's little about music here, another of Tina's observations puts Frank's shortcomings into proper perspective: "Had he been a healthier, less tortured man, he might have been Perry Como." Of course you can't balance a childhood against, say, "All the Way," except to say, her loss, our gain.