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This is a ""must"" for anyone who has followed the fortunes of the Rakonitz tribe since The Matriarch won for the family new adherents. Not since A Deputy Was King has the family seemed so alive, so pulsing with that tumultuous overpowering vitality that was characteristic of successive members of the family -- the Matriarch herself, alive in memory and tradition even a generation later; Toni, who has just died at the start of this book; Lorains-Spanish, Irish and Rakonitz in strange blend; and two new claimants of the mantle, young Baba, Toni's daughter, and the newly discovered aunt, isidore, come into her own as Uncle Dietrich's daughter, after years of anonymity. I loved it -- though I found it at times overwhelming in multiplicity of personalities, in assumption that the reader needs no introduction to anyone, in the author's liberties with time and transitions. It is primarily Babs' story, as she goes through the difficult growing pains of discovering that the Matriarch's ways are not always possible to imitate; her teens are filled with battles royal, as she is ""adopted"" by first one, then another relative, and her own intense and vivid personality demands power, immediate, all-controlling. There are flashbacks -- one of the high spots of the book is the story of a dinner Haldes gave and the Matriarch took over; another characteristic episode is the moving in of Rudi and his mistress, accepted by the family as a seal of 0th century liberalism, in contrast to the muted secrecy about Dietrich and his lovely Annette. There's a slim thread of romance -- there are bits of the war crashing into lives -- and the story ends with Nicholas in the forces of the Free French, Jason with the Greeks. Episodic -- a tremendous canvas of Europe and America -- fascinating to those in on the know, as it were, but not a book to suggest as a starter on G. B. Stern.

Pub Date: Oct. 13th, 1942
Publisher: Macmillan