HARVEST by Belva Plain
Kirkus Star


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Further flutterations and frenzies of the Werner clan, begun with Plain's ever-blooming Evergreen (1978) and pursued in The Golden Clip (1986) and Tapestry (1988). This time the story takes place in the 1960's, in affluent Westchester, Manhattan, westward to the Coast, and Israel. Aging, urbane Paul Werner is a family savior here, as the marriage of daughter Iris (result of Paul's brief, fabulous flight long ago) is in deep trouble. Iris, 36-year-old mother of four (and unaware of her own real paternal parentage), has the jealousy shakes now and then concerning handsome husband Theo Stern, super plastic-reconstruction surgeon. Adding to the latent tension is oldest son Steve. Earlier, in a bout of teen idealism, Steve had refused to perform at his bar mitzvah (with flowers everywhere and caterers at the ready!); and now, at his midwestern college, Steve falls under the spell of Professor Tim (unbeknownst to Steve, a second cousin), who will eventually lead a group, including Steve, into a kind of Weathermen cell, moving on from mere blood-dumping on draft files to bombing. Back in Westchester, the Sterns--nerves rubbed raw by Steve's disappearance--torture one another and themselves by word, deed, and silences (with Iris--by accident--slamming the car door on the surgeon-husband Theo's fingers and drifting toward suicide). Then enter Paul, who has sidled into Theo's confidence--and who now begins to unknot the tangled web; he'll even locate Steve just in time. And Paul will at last marry a tree love. As usual, full of pinnacles of woe, as well as warm-to-claustrophobic moments of family and heritage consciousness-raising. For the devoted Plain readership.

Pub Date: Sept. 7th, 1990
Publisher: Delacorte