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Fast's familiar gaffer prose slips on easy as an old sweater around the richesto-rags-to-rebound tale of Dan Layette, orphaned son of a French immigrant and Italian mother, both of whom perished in the San Francisco earthquake, Dan's seemingly effortless ascent from youthful owner of one fishing boat to czar of passenger liners, an airline, department store, hotel, etc., wavers from time to time as he is involved with two women. First there's banker's daughter Jean of Nob Hill--you know, spoiled darling falls for real man and r.m. goes for beauty and class. They wed and produce two children, but Jean edges down the thermostat in the bedroom, and Dan turns to a deathless affair with gentle Chinese May Ling, daughter of his erstwhile bookkeeper, who inexplicably adores his employer. Amid news of the fortunes of Dan's friends (Italians, Jews, and Irish of a nobility beyond belief) in the WW I years and the prosperity that follows, Dan and Jean spar while Dan and May Ling love, produce a child, and part because May Ling wants marriage. Dan gets his divorce when he's wiped out in the Depression, refuses Jean's help, hits the breadlines, lands in jail, reunions with May Ling, and turns to honest toil as a fisherman. This is the first novel of a promised trilogy, so spare $9.95 for this, Brother, if you'd like a re-showing of what you paid a dime on Bank Night at the Bijou.

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 1977
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin