Family Secrets

Nancy Thayer, Author
Nancy Thayer, Author Viking Books $22 (352p) ISBN 978-0-670-84439-5
Reviewed on: 05/31/1993
Release date: 06/01/1993
With quiet intensity, Thayer ( Everlasting ) tells an engrossing story of three generations of proud and rebellious women. As a girl, Jean Marshall had seemed the epitome of virtue and obedience, qualities demanded by her naval-officer father and status-conscious mother. While a student at Radcliffe in 1939, however, Jean starts to write for a pacifist literary review and begins an erotic relationship that leads to some heady cloak-and-dagger machinations whose astonishing reverberations will be felt 50 years later. Eventually, she marries someone suitable and becomes a full-time mother, drawing disdain from her talented daughter, Diane, who vows her life will never be as dull as Jean's. Diane builds a custom jewelry business, winning world renown, but she incurs the hostility of her own daughter, Julia, who has felt abandoned during crucial times. Julia has her own way of striking back and precipitates a crisis. The story, ever fluid, gracefully incorporates details of 1930s Washington society and insights into the process of jewelry design. Although the characters never become quite lifelike and their dialogue is just a little too glib, a series of well-integrated surprises sustains reader interest. 50,000 first printing; major ad/promo; Literary Guild selection. (June)