Love and money struggle for control of a modern family’s affections.
In her wonderfully cohesive debut novel, short-story writer Tedrowe graduates to elegant novelist with a winding, convincing familial drama about the ties that bind and the bonds that bend to the breaking point. The book opens on a small-town wedding in June, the stuff that rural newspapers love, as 78-year-old Winifred Easton McClelland prepares herself for marriage to powerful Chicago mogul Jerry Trevis. From her first steps into the story, Winnie is the most winning member of a multifaceted cast, a widow who has found love in the winter of her life. “She was marrying a man for the delicious and wicked and simple reason that she wanted to,” Tedrowe writes. Jerry, too, is a splendid fiction, a stubborn old rogue with a soft spot for his girl and her challenging children, but one with a mean streak when it comes to his own rebellious offspring. Jerry’s wealth and his old age soon inject chaos into this very extended family. Who stands to lose? First and foremost, Jerry’s daughter Annette, who launches a power struggle with her father for control of the business empire. The mogul shows a soft spot for Winnie’s daughter, Rachel, whose acceptance of a loan from her new stepfather only serves to hide the failures of her lazy and financially incompetent husband. But no one stands to gain more than Jerry’s grandson Avery, who reminds the old man of his lost brother so much that the recovering addict and high-rolling chef stands to get it all. Tedrowe unfurls all of this familiar, troubled interplay via the perspective of a specific character in each chapter, and while Avery garners an unfair share of the spotlight, the author’s deft handling of a large and distinctive cast should win raves from those who revel in this sort of ensemble crazy quilt.
A lovely and literate family drama that wins bonus points for its sincerity and open-hearted delivery.