From the author of the thin, pulpy A Woman's Place (1981): another formula dynasty item, ho-humming out the story of two generations of N.Y. marriages mired in misery--all due to the prime stinker-hood of the kingpin of a wealthy investment-banking family. In 1904 Jesse Slayter, with the approval of his father Jethro (an old lecher with the Midas touch), weds beautiful Madeleine Van Ryn, whose father's important financial interests will later be absorbed by the Siayters. Madeleine initially adores Jesse, who seems tantalizingly ""unacquainted with love""; but later she'll feel she's missing something from married love. And meanwhile Jesse's half-brother Dan, whose anti-banking sensitivity forecasts that of Jesse's son Jonathan, slips out from beneath Jesse's authoritarian thumb--fighting in WW I, occasionally visiting sister Philippa (wife of an English earl), and living abroad. On, then to the next generation: Jesse's son Jonathan would rather play the piano than the market; daughter Susannah, however, is Daddy's girl, having inherited Jesse's talent for investment magic--and she's outraged when she discovers that neglected mum Madeleine (who by this time knows what she's missed) is having an affair with nice Dr. Ned Driscoll. So, in 1928 Switzerland, Susannah agrees to marry attractive Charles Benedict, a lawyer with all his values in the right court--while back at home Jonathan wonders about Jesse's connections with I. G. Farben. Eventually, in fact, Jonathan will fall in love with and marry German/Jewish Marietta Kastenberg--under the shadow of Nazism, of course. (As for Madeleine, she has shed Ned, because Jesse has urged her to have another go at marriage.) And Slayter troubles heat up and explode with the war: Jesse's greedy footsie-playing with the Germans (not to mention his general nastiness) results in three deaths abroad and havoc at home. . . as Madeleine sums up Life. ""It has love and betrayal, passion and honor, acceptance and pardon, courage--and just enough villainy to make it human."" Unfortunately, few of those life-forces come through here--in a bland brew stocked with turgid characters.