Fred Mustard Stewart, Author . Forge $24.95 (324p) ISBN 978-0-312-87485-8

A new generation of Savages take center stage as Stewart slickly shepherds his ultra-elite family through the pre-WWII era in this superficial pop history romp. The primary protagonist is Nick Savage, who meets the young FDR as a banker while trying to salvage the family fortune, a connection that later pays off when Roosevelt appoints him ambassador to France in the late 1930s. Savage's equally chaotic love life begins when he marries young to a woman who turns out to be an alcoholic and "a silly shopper," and dies during childbirth. His second wife, an idealistic Englishwoman who unexpectedly inherits a fortune of her own, proves to be the love of his life. Nick's female counterpart in the narrative is his sister-in-law, Gloria, an aging actress and widow of an Indiana industrialist now burdened with caring for her problematic young twins, Mark and Sebastian, the former dying after a bout with polio by talking his brother into helping him commit suicide. Stewart's prose reads quickly and glibly; the early sections especially are full of lazy writing in which characters narrate events in place of genuine action. Nick Savage's adventures in Europe are woefully unrealistic, particularly when he joins his sister, Brooks, in the Resistance, and a subplot set in Asia is designed only to complete the historical time line. Gloria's adventures are slightly more entertaining, but most of the novel reads like a bad cross between a bodice ripper, a History Channel bromide and an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. The result is an instantly forgettable book that falls way below such Stewart standards as The Mephisto Waltz. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/09/2001
Release date: 09/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 352 pages - 978-0-8125-6180-7
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