Silver Screen Library 

An Officer and a Gentleman's Daughter by Douglas Day Stewart - Review

Click Here to Join Our Mailing List Button

Follow Us:

Twitter Icon
Facebook Icon
LinkedIn Icon
Goodreads Icon
Photo of Douglas Day Stewart and Family

Douglas Day Stewart and Family

Blackstone Publishing

318 Pages (E-book) (Hardcover)


An Officer and a Gentleman's Daughter Cover

For those who attended movies in the 1980s or caught this film on TV or some streaming channel, “An Officer and a Gentleman” is a near-perfect romance. It boasts an Oscar-winning supporting actor performance by Louis Gossett, Jr., and one of the best movie songs ever, the Oscar-winning “Up Where We Belong.” And it features one of the most memorable closing scenes of all time, when Richard Gere, in his naval dress whites, enters the factory where Debra Winger works and literally sweeps her off her feet and out the door. One thing the movie didn’t have was a ready-made hook for a sequel, which may explain why we never saw “Officer II,” despite the original movie’s boffo box office totals (#3 in total revenue for the year). But the film is near and dear to the heart of screenwriter Douglas Day Stewart (who got an Oscar nomination for the movie’s screenplay). He has now written a sequel, “An Officer and a Gentleman’s Daughter.” Fans of the movie will love learning more about their favorite characters. However, others may find the officer and his daughter’s adventures  

in life and love less exciting and the overlarge cast of characters confusing.

An Officer and a Gentleman’s Daughter” takes place mainly in 2010 and 2011. Readers learn about the fates of almost all the movie’s characters who survived the original film, and many appear in the novel. They include Zack Mayo, who became a national hero as a fighter pilot in both the Iraq wars. Now 60 and approaching retirement, Mayo’s last assignment is training one last group of Naval would-be pilots, this time at a base in Virginia. Among those trainees is Mayo’s daughter, Shannon. She had a close relationship with Zack until her mother, Paula, died in 2001. After that, Shannon spiraled out of control with sex and drugs. Finally, after graduating college in 2008, she disappeared in 2008 and was presumed dead in a boating accident. Actually, Shannon spent most of those two years in rehab in Mexico, and she entered into a paper marriage with a gay man so she could get a new last name. Zack recognizes his daughter immediately and knows the Navy will drop her from the program immediately if they learn her identity. Nevertheless, he agrees to keep her secret, even though what’s left of his career and legacy is in jeopardy.

Zack and Shannon aren’t the only characters with troubled backgrounds in the novel. Sergeant Emil Foley, who memorably clashed with Zack decades earlier as his training instructor, is also in Virginia. He lost his legs in Iraq and now runs a fitness center. Shannon seeks him out and starts working (without pay) at his gym. Shannon also begins a relationship that may or may not become a romance with Dylan Harmony, a worker at the local tuna cannery. Their romance is an intentional, sex reversed mirror image of the romance between Zack and Paula decades earlier. However, Dylan shares more with Shannon than Zack and Paula had in common earlier. The two meet at an NA meeting (Dylan’s also a recovering addict), and he later becomes her sponsor.

Although “An Officer and a Gentleman’s Daughter” is primarily set in 2010 and 2011, relatively little of the movie occurs then. Almost every character has a troubled backstory, with complicated relationships with their parents. Readers learn these backstories in flashbacks, some taking place before the movie and others in the decades between the movie and 2010. Further, the author reveals these backstories as inner monologues, sometimes shifting from one character’s reminiscences to another’s from one page to the next. Douglas Day Stewart is an accomplished screenwriter and is aware of the maxim: “Show, don’t tell.” He did so brilliantly in the movie’s screenplay. In this book, however, he tells… and tells and tells. The subplots and secondary characters slow the book down enormously.

“An Officer and a Gentleman’s Daughter” sheds new light on some incidents in the movie, which should please anyone who’s ever seen the film. As portrayed in the movie, Sergeant Foley was a strict disciplinarian who was especially hard on Zack. Now, 35 years (in book time) later, readers learn why. Both Foley and Zack had abusive parents and grew up on the streets. Foley’s treatment of Zack was his form of tough love. The eventual reunion between Zack and Foley parallels their earlier relationship.

Overall, readers get too much information about the backstories of the various characters in “An Officer and a Gentleman’s Daughter” and not enough detail about the present day. The author seems to have been influenced by Tom Cruise’s “Top Gun” and “Top Gun: Maverick” movies. These would-be aviators Zack trains don’t just learn the basics of military fitness and aeronautical physics. Instead, they go up in the air, flying multi-million-dollar jets. Shannon’s emotional and substance history presents a constant threat to her survival in an aircraft in which one mistake could send her plummeting out of control to the ground. These aviation sequences are gripping, especially those where Zack is in the air with Shannon. The book needed more of that type of material.

The author handles the ultimate revelation of Paula’s fate well. Readers learn of her death in the book’s first chapter, but Zack’s and Shannon’s memories fill in the details later, eventually explaining much about Zack’s career path and Shannon’s substance problems. And for anyone who may have forgotten, several characters mention the movie’s climactic scene when Zack swept Paula off her feet. These scenes and the aerial sequences show how good the book could have been.

Before reading “An Officer and a Gentleman’s Daughter,” I rewatched the movie. It had been several years since I had last seen it. While I remembered the movie’s significant events, I forgot many details about the secondary characters. There was a good reason for that. They weren’t necessary for the story, and they weren’t memorable. While it’s good to know that Zack stayed in touch with his former classmates over the years (and it will be good for the careers of a few aging actors if this book becomes a film), the amount of detail about them will bore everyone but the most ardent fan. Nor do readers need the details about the novel’s younger crop of secondary characters. Douglas Day Stewart still knows how to wrap up a work, whether a 1982 movie or a 2024 screenplay. Genre fans will enjoy the last few chapters but wish the book contained more of what makes these chapters memorable. “An Officer and a Gentleman’s Daughter” sticks the landing but doesn’t always send readers up where they belong.

NOTE: The publisher graciously provided me with a copy of this book through NetGalley. However, the decision to review the book and the contents of this review are entirely my own.

Author Douglas Day Stewart discusses this book, the original movie, and his career with podcaster Rex Sikes:

Read other reviews of An Officer and a Gentleman's Daughter:

Douglas Day Stewart is best known for his original Oscar-nominated screenplay, An Officer and a Gentleman, which was based on his own experiences as a Naval Officer Candidate in 1965, undergoing rigorous training while dating a local factory girl. Officer was listed by the American Film Institute as one of the ten highest-grossing love stories in cinema history.  A medical problem would prevent Stewart from flying jets, but he would go on to serve with a top-secret team of Naval and Marine officers during the Vietnam War.

Stewart’s other writing credits include the original version of Blue Lagoon with Brooke Shields, the acclaimed The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, (the ABC television movie that launched John Travolta’s career), and The Scarlet Letter, his take on Hawthorne’s classic novel, starring Demi Moore. Stewart also wrote and directed the cult favorite Thief of Hearts and Listen to Me. An Officer and a Gentleman's Daughter is his first novel. 

Stream Douglas Day Stewart's screenplays on Amazon:

An Officer and a Gentleman Streaming
The Blue Lagoon Streaming
The Scarlet Letter Streaming

Header Photo: "Riot Radio" by Arielle Calderon / Flickr / CC By / Cropped

Silver Screen Video Banner Photos:  pedrojperez / Morguefilewintersixfour / Morguefile

Join Button: "Film Element" by Stockphotosforfree

Twitter Icon: "Twitter Icon" by Freepik

Facebook Icon: "Facebook Icon" by Freepik

LinkedIn Icon: "LinkedIn Icon" by Fathema Khanom / Freepik

Goodreads Icon: "Letter G Icon" by arnikahossain / Freepik

Douglas Day Stewart: "Shady Day Stewart, Douglas Day Stewart and Judy" by Eva Rinaldi / Flickr  / CC BY-SA 2.0

Certain images on this site appear courtesy of and other sponsors of Silver Screen Videos for the purpose of advertising products on those sites. Silver Screen Videos earns commissions from purchases on those sites.  


© 2024 Steven R. Silver. All rights reserved.   

Click to Learn More about Network Solutions