A family saga- the setting a Georgia community in which the Taylors are the ""reigning house"", dominating the local business, politics, social matters, etc. The story swings from present to past, to distant past, and forward again, as the heritage of dominance and violence, evident in one man of each generation, sets its mark on the history of the town and the members of the family. Wayne Taylor has returned, on news of his father's imminent death, from self-exile in Europe, still uncertain of how he can take his older brother's marriage to the girl he'd always thought his own. The split was wider than simply that; Wayne had seen Stuart murder a Negro, who had been brought up on the plantation and who was defending his sister against rape. And Jonas, the grandfather, high mogul of the community, had insisted on silence and protection of his favorite, Stuart. The reader traces the background, sees a tiny community grow into prominence, sees the change from protective, generous paternalism to ruthlessness- and learns the checkered story of successive generations. It is an interesting slashing across the community, at various levels; there is powerful story telling here, albeit at times one feels that loose ends need a bit of tying up. Overlong, it nonetheless has many of the characteristics popular with the American reader.