THE TOPPLING TOWERS by Barbara Willard


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Barbara Willard knows what makes a serial run. The Family Tower (1968) is shaken first by the return of pregnant, presumably widowed Anthea from America, then by the arrival of African Kojo Ampansah, orphaned Emily's childhood friend, to train in the family auto works. The crucial threat, however, is the absorption of the firm by a large holding company, ending Tower dominance in town and making the cousins trespassers instead of heirs apparent at the works--where most of them, including headstrong Jo, a master mechanic, and deceptively gentle Rose, the best driver of the lot, had expected to make their mark. In the time of trial Jo learns what it's like not to be privileged, what it was like for others formerly not to be a Tower; the smug family--especially beautiful, cavalier Rose--discovers that to Kojo their benevolence is contemptible; while Emily, so much the stranger in the first, loses her African self and with it her second sight (to the gain of the book). Strung out, some of the other developments (like the sudden appearance of Anthea's soldier husband Paul) sound contrived; in the context of a continuum, they have implications for the future: buoyant, tender Oliver's death removes him as Jo's bulwark; Paul's purchase of the to-be-dispersed old car collection provides the cousins with a new venture and the town with a permanent memorial of the Towers. It takes time to sort them out but they have staying power; surely they'll retrench and return.

Pub Date: April 16th, 1969
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World