The Irish-American answer to Howard Fast, more or less: a dynasty/tycoon saga featuring Thomas Michael Dalton (1875-1950),...



The Irish-American answer to Howard Fast, more or less: a dynasty/tycoon saga featuring Thomas Michael Dalton (1875-1950), but with roots in the life of Thomas' father Michael. Good son of a peasant-exploiting family 50 miles outside of Dublin, earthy and democratic Michael falls thatch-over-brogans in love with pretty peasant Mary Dalton. And a few years after Mary bears son Tom, Michael is just about to marry her--but he's killed in a riding accident, and his evil older brother Randolph boots mother and son from their cottage: Mary, following Michael's wishes and a kind priest's advice, goes to America, leaving Tom to the misery of a sound but severe monastery education. . . and later, by luck, to the University. Isn't Mary eager for Tom to join her? No--because, to escape the slavery of domestic service, she has married lackluster merchant Thaddeus and can't bring herself to tell him about bastard Tom. So Tom and Mary won't reunite for some time--though he arrives in New York in 1900, toiling on the waterfront until a young brothel madam with a heart of sheer platinum introduces him to his future mentor: Diamond Jim Malvaney, who has a golden touch re mining, shipping, and railroads, and a good Irish heart beating to the drums of Tammany. (""When the Party's in, the people eat!"") Tom labors handily in Mulvaney's fertile vineyard, marries Jim's lovely daughter Deirdre--an unpopular move which sends Tom back to the docks for a Pinkerton-raided strike. Jim eventually melts, however; the newlyweds are absolved; Rory, Seamus, and Maeve are born. But there are clinkers in the plumcake life, of course: Mary, riddled with guilt, goes crackers after the death of her favorite and fifth child, is institutionalized, and later goes down on the Lusitania; poor Maeve has a lying-in on a warehouse floor (kidnapped as part of a Mafia war) and dies giving birth to Megan; and Tom gives his kids short emotional shrift, only later offering his whole loyalty to granddaughter Megan--who at the close pairs off with Jack Cavanaugh, Tom's loyal right-hand man. . . as the old family manse in Eire is wrested at last from evil Randolph. Foolish, fat, familiar as oatmeal--and sure to please the saga set almost as much as a Fast production.

Pub Date: June 1, 1983


Page Count: -

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1983