A brother and sister delve into their dying father’s past in this moving family drama.
Cleveland knows Jason Wainwright as a pillar of the business community and one of the city’s wealthiest and most generous philanthropists. But to his son Daniel and daughter Amy he is a stern, remote and, at times, cruel father whose legacy is distrust and resentment. Emotional scars open up when they are called home to Jason’s hospital bed after he is felled by a cerebral aneurism–and then unsettling new information begins to surface which complicates their picture of their father. A shady lawyer calls to inform them of Jason’s possibly illegal financial dealings with a Hindu mystic, which he threatens to divulge unless they pay up. A new will surfaces in the hands of Jason’s longtime assistant, a steely woman who’s driven to seize control of his vast estate. Jason’s antique car is missing, and a stripper called Zebra Dane is somehow mixed up in the mysterious circumstances surrounding his sudden collapse. Jason’s cryptic semiconscious mutterings prompt Daniel and Amy to look for answers in ancient family history, but their mother–a brittle, neurotic woman who comes unhinged over Jason’s illness–provides no help. As Amy and Daniel struggle to get to the bottom of things, they cope with crises that threaten to undo their lives in San Francisco. Long tells their story with a nuanced, finely wrought prose. Just when readers think they have one of his sharply etched characters pegged, he surprises with new subtleties and hidden dimensions. The author is a keen portraitist of the American upper class, with a shrewd eye for manners and mores. He sees past their sense of entitlement to the insecurities and hollowness–and the hunger for meaning–that lie beneath these outwardly perfect lives.
An absorbing saga of ties that bind.