Crescendo

Laura Kalpakian, Author Random House (NY) $17.95 (334p) ISBN 978-0-394-55852-3
Shifting back and forth between the 1950s and the present, this is a tale of dirty deals among the well-to-do. We meet Claire Stone as she learns of her husband Lucky's attempted suicide on the heels of tax delinquency, then flash back to her childhood and are introduced to her impossibly correct mother, her father, Judge Anson Swallow and her swashbuckling grandfather, Sen. Ebeneezer Swallow, founder of Swallow Steamship Lines. The widowed senator marries Lucille, a lady of easy virtue, to whom he leaves his fortune (thus starting the remaining Swallows on their plummet downward) and whose son coincidentally fathers Claire's oldest child, Scott. Scott weds Lucille's granddaughter, whose riches will presumably allow him to enter Stanford University and emerge a proper gentleman, his mother's dearest wish. The Victorian attitudes of Claire and her relatives contrast uneasily with their frequently vulgar language, and they feel so sorry for themselves that the reader's sympathy is withheld. But despite unbelievable characters, Kalpakian's energetic plot and felicitous descriptions of natural scenes keep the narrative moving. (April 17)
Reviewed on: 03/31/1987
Release date: 04/01/1987
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-671-66010-9
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