A debut collection of linked stories that provides a comprehensive history of a troubled American family. The Goodpastures are the sort of people often thought to be rich just because they've been around. Old-style Wasps, they're actually quite modest in tastes and means. But there's a fissure of unhappiness running through the family, and a trust fund is needed to break it open: when a shady Florida lawyer swindles them, Stuart Goodpasture goes down to Jacksonville to investigate--and falls in love with Muriel, a born-again Christian. She converts Stuart, who then divorces his wife, marries her, and patches together an elaborate scheme to invest the remainder of his children's money in a new hospital wing at Oral Roberts University. His children--Stuart, Jr., Brian, Jay, and Moriah--feel betrayed, both by the divorce and the conversion, but they go along with the plan. Brian, Jay, and Moriah, all D.C. lawyers and lobbyists, are anyhow too wrapped up in their own dramas to explore their father's. But Stuart, Jr., goes out to Oklahoma to do some ferreting--and finds that the odd hospital scheme is actually an even odder oil venture. Then he's presented with evidence that makes him question his own paternity. Blood is thicker than water, perhaps, yet water's thicker than air: it's hard enough to stay loyal to your old man when your entire family hates him, he's squandered your inheritance, and his second wife keeps praying for you in restaurants. But what if he's not even your old man? That's when you begin to wonder what family life is all about. Nicely drawn portraits that ring true, enclosed within a narrative that's at times badly overwritten (""I was a humble cottage villager who carried in his rucksack daydreams of effortless and precocious success, and I was still trying then to make that quantum leap onto the staff of a senator""). Still, a good start.