THE LEGACY by Howard Fast
Kirkus Star


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You thought the Layette family saga (The Immigrants, Second Generation, The Establishment) was a completed trilogy? So did we. But here's #4, featuring the demise of 69-year-old Dan Layette (that monument to San Francisco's brawl, brawn, and go-getting), the fade-out of wife Jane some years later, and the '50s/'60s traumas of their multi-ethnic clan--all of it snap-locked onto headline events, all of it tidy and curiously sedative in Fast's silver-screen prose. Barbara, Dan's 40-ish, crusading-writer daughter, gets most of the closeups: she marries young WASP newspaper scion Carson Devron (which, considering her age and her past HUAC troubles, doesn't please the Devrons); she eventually divorces this uncongenial hubby, joins the women's movement, founds a women's anti-Vietnam war group; and winds up wed to her old friend, lawyer Boyd Kimmerman. Meanwhile, of course, the younger Layettes are also trotted out--to mime the times. Barbara's son Sam (by husband Ben Cohen, who died in Israel) will have his bout with anti-Semitism, moving to Israel for pre-reed and performing heroically in the '68 war. Barbara's nephew Freddie--son of rightwinger Tom, who ""owns half of San Francisco""--refuses to be considered Tom's heir, preferring wine-making in the Napa valley (two of his friends have been savagely murdered during the late-Fifties civil rights work). And May Ling, grand-daughter of Dan's Chinese wife (who was killed at Pearl Harbor), loses her Chicano boyfriend in Vietnam. Fast slips in Layette lore from the other books with virtuoso ease; and with those old familiar faces, the nostalgic newsprint, and the multi-episodic craftsmanship, it's like slipping into a warm bath--both soapy and soothing.

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 1981
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin