The Loss of Heaven

Ben Greer, Author Doubleday Books $19.95 (444p) ISBN 978-0-385-23616-4
In a minor switch on the conventional formula of female family sagas, Greer ( Time Loves a Hero ) writes of the four Longstreet brothers, Southerners attempting to free their lives from the pernicious meddling of their wealthy and powerful grandmother, Harper. The civil-rights struggle provides a backdrop to the 1960s North Carolina setting, yet the black servants in Harper's household are one big family, happy to be ruled by the benevolent despot. Determined to bend her grandsons to her iron will, Harper discourages Wick's commitment to Catholicism, but she is unable to prevent his rise through the priesthood, an ascent that is not slowed even when he becomes the father of twins. Starkey makes good as an army officer in Vietnam, fighting for the very things his brother Ford, an unusually philosophical politician, argues against. And Blackie, the charming bad seed, gets his thrills as a thief. Driving a wedge between two of the brothers is Cat McGregor, a coal-miner's daughter who has escaped to the big house and is determined to stay there. Rudimentary psychological motivation renders these characters shallow and unconvincing. Greer scores occasionally with a handful of exciting scenes set in the jungles of Southeast Asia and a too-brief cameo of LBJ at the height of his power. But overall, the meandering plot lines of this novel have little shape and too much padding. (October)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1988
Release date: 09/01/1988
Genre: Nonfiction
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