“Franzen has laid the ground beautifully, and his first act is intoxicating – a luxuriant domestic drama that opens out into politics, running against the grain of the counterculture with its focus on the friction between conservatism and radicalism, Christianity and social activism.”


The main story line of this novel takes place in December, 1971. This is the story about the Hildebrandt family. Russ, the father, is a minister. His wife is Marion and they have four children. Clem is the oldest, followed by Rebecca, then Perry. The fourth child is a young boy who really does not play an important part in the book.
The author gives us background on all the major characters, and what we have here is a dysfunctional family on the brink of falling apart.

Russ is attracted to a beautiful widower, Marion is very unhappy, Clem is thinking of leaving school, Rebecca is a beautiful and desirable young lady who is beginning to find her own way and Perry is the problem child which as most of us know from personal experience, can tear a family apart in a heartbeat.
The author draws his dysfunctional family members almost to perfection. It is something he is very good at as his previous works attest to. The story may take a little while to really develop, but when it does it becomes very hard to put the book down.
The book is supposed to be the first part of a trilogy.

In the audible version, their is an interview with the author and the reader of the book. I was not thrilled with the reader, though by the end I became used to his style. You might want to skip the audio version.
Fans of the author will not be disappointed. The issues in the book are interesting and capture that time in our history very well.
Highly recommended.


Reviewed by:

Richard Franco

Added 12th January 2022

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Richard Franco