A lengthy (640 pp.), phlegmatic generational saga about a wine-growing family in upstate New York. In the early part of the 20th century, young Liam Brennan arrives in New York's Finger Lakes district fresh from poverty in County Clare, Ireland. Entranced by the richness of the land surrounding Iroquois Lake, Liam ends up marrying the daughter of a German farmer who does a little grape-growing. With the help of a displaced French wine expert, Liam soon has vineyards to rival any in New York. After his first wife dies in a steamboat accident, he marries the lovely Kathleen--she of the ""tongue that could trim a hedge""--and the Brennan dynasty begins in earnest. By WW Il, children Kevin and Helen take over center stage: Kevin has a good war as an American bombing Europe, but returns crippled by wounds only to have his wife leave him; Helen marries a dullish photographer--who becomes an even duller businessman--and turns into a shrewish alcoholic. By the 1960's and 70's, Liam's grandchildren are the novel's focal point: Will kills himself after service in Vietnam; Susan never recovers from the loss of a son to leukemia; Jim becomes a successful manufacturer of computer chips, married to a Jewish-American Princess--but Los Angeles lawyer Kathleen returns to the Brennan winery to save the day when a big conglomerate threatens to take over. She then stays on to carry on the family business. Despite the nice descriptions of grapes and Finger Lakes scenery, nothing is on a grand enough scale here--the Brennans' petty squabbles and bickering are undramatic and unsaga-like. In all, vin ordinaire.
Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1988
Page Count: -
Publisher: British American--dist. by Simon & Schuster