THE BARONS by Charles Wertenbaker


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It is difficult for anyone brought up in Wilmington, Delaware, during the period of the famous family feud and lawsuit, not to read this novel with every sense alert to the recognizable characters and incidents- disguised though they may seem under other names and twists of details. The Barons, of French descent, dominate the community, and the powder industry and its concomitants form virtually the pivotal point of the story as one member of the family, Stuart Baron, overrides the timidity of the elders, and with Raoul and David, rebuilds a small company into the nucleus of a powerful giant industry. There's a love story here with undertones and tenderness, but gossip and jealousy pervert intentions, and scandal rips the town and the family asunder. As confessor and commentator on the sidelines, there is first Uncle Anthony, semi-retired and dabbling in national politics -- and the clergyman at the family church. The case which overrides the personal story in the last third of the book grows out of a tricky attempt to buy and sell shares within the family, and Stuart fights it almost alone. It is a tragic sort of story with its cynical view of a paternalistic set up, and for the general public less of drama than Dynasty of Death (a sure comparison)- though very much better written. Too bad Mr. Wertenbaker seems to feel that vulgarities must be lugged in where they play no evident part in either characterization or incident.

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1950
Publisher: Random House