PEDIGREES by Ann Shively


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Mainline favors and graces, knowingly fine-tuned here, give tone to this otherwise superficial tale about gentlefolk locked in by the ""rules of pedigree."" Paige Taylor is the eldest daughter of delicate Sally, a Virginia belle who has kept her ""paper-lace"" illusions of high-society standing even while wed to Baldo Iannotto--a Pennsylvania farmer who beats and humiliates Sally and even attempts to rape 16-year-old Paige. Luckily for Paige, Frazier Todd, Old Family farmowner and 50-year-old gentleman loner, kindly and immediately offers her an escape--via marriage. And though this marriage will remain unconsummated (because of Frazier's impotence), they cherish one another through the years and (after Sally's death) rescue Paige's two younger sisters from Baldo--impulsive, competitive Randy and pliant, pretty Celia. Furthermore, Paige gradually learns the tribal mores of those of pedigree and plans a single-track traditional future for her sisters--an acceptable school (Randy is never ""accepted""; Celia squeaks by), the debut, blue-ribbon dates, etc. Unfortunately, Randy marries Barr Grant, son of an impecunious minister. But Paige does manage to push Celia into marriage with generally unattractive Jim Britton, of unpleasant but social-register parents. Finally, however, both girls will break free: Randy divorces Barr, is a brilliant social success in England, and becomes pregnant by the man she adores, a racing car driver who dies on the track; Celia, breaking loose from Jim (who's mentally ill), raises her child alone, finishes school, and pairs with Barr. As for Paige, there's one brief affair with a middle-aged man (she feels she's ""given birth to herself"") and fun abroad before she returns to a dying Frazier and reviews her life--which ultimately is seen as a movement towards self-knowledge, away from obsession with the traps of pedigree. With an authentic milieu to enrich the decorous pecks at the uppercrust--a nice domestic drama that never really digs in.

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 1980
Publisher: Lippincott & Crowell