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Like Shakespeare -- whose quotes are liberally sprinkled throughout this essentially tasteless novel in a vain attempt to lend it dass -- this book has everything: rape, seduction of in-laws, murder, blood feuds, incest, insanity -- against a backdrop of political intrigue from A1 Smith to FDR to Joe Kennedy. Callie, short for Caliban, a little nymphet of an orphan, has time both for the aging widower to whom she's married and his young son Ham, named for guess who? who fathers her only child. After daddy dies, it's on to other alliances for money and power, conducted with an incisive intelligence and lack of sentimentality that does Women's Lib proud, especially when all the men in the novel apparently have nothing better to do than follow their pricks around. Meanwhile Callie cajoles, blackmails, and makes love to accomplish the building of her precious toll bridge; then later, in a predictable turnabout, to play lady of the manor during the Depression to her starving tenants. Several incests, deaths, epiphanies and wars later -- she is with Ham, back where she started, older, sadder, wiser, dying, waiting for the son who will never come back from the war. Blood will out. . . while other things tell.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1974
Publisher: Saturday Review/Dutton