HOMECOMING by Belva Plain


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 There's a certain amount of post-trauma misery and marital conflict here (featured in Plain's Secrecy, p. 748, and Promises, 1996), but that's just one element in this cockle-warming yarn about the efforts of an elderly widow to round up--and shape up-- her fragmented, warring family. Annette Byrne, 85, sends invitations to a snarling pack of descendants and their in-laws to join her on her estate in upper New York State. Among those not speaking or simply out-of-sync: sons Lewis and Gene, former partners, whose business was destroyed by corruption, for which each blames the other; Lewis's wife Daisy, whose cold manner antagonizes many; and Gene's nice daughter Ellen, who is married to Mark Sachs--none of the parents of the happy couple are thrilled with the Wasp/Jewish union. But a true tragedy blasted the marriage and lives of Lewis's daughter Cynthia and husband Andrew when their twin babies were killed in an accident. The terrible prolonged grief finally forced the couple apart-- Andrew was driven to a seedy sexual episode, and Cynthia began divorce proceedings. Now all of Annette's edgy guests have arrived, loving or respecting Annette but appalled by her plan when they realize the identity of the other guests. Will Annette bring them together? Well, yes and no. Yes, the grand, roomy old house, the handsomely appointed table, and yummo food (a Plain specialty) offer the background to peace talks, but Annette is finally reduced to tears. A chance event, potentially tragic, along with a lecture from Annette's neighborhood friend Marion, does bring them together. Cynthia is the last holdout, but sweetness and light prevail. It's all set in a winter landscape, with sleet underlining the central drama, but by the end the emotional thermostat is up and good feeling is spread all around. A small, warming holiday gift for Plain fans. (Literary Guild main selection; author tour)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-385-31980-0
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1997


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