Email this review


From bestselling author Rose (Hospital, not reviewed, etc.) comes a quasi-feminist saga of four strong women's lives from the turn of the century to the present. Abandoned at age six by her mentally incompetent mother, feisty Leah Vogel makes her own way in New York City. She has a dreary job at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, but soon meets Joe Lazarus, a handsome, smooth-talking photographer who takes her picture one night at Coney Island. The two set up bohemian housekeeping in Greenwich Village, where Leah becomes a writer and grapples with the emotional conflicts created by Joe's attachment to the concept of free love. Then comes the First World War. Leah gets pregnant; Joe dies in action without ever seeing his daughter, Joanna, who grows up to be a talented and spunky photographer. Traveling to Europe in the 1940s to photograph the horrors of war, Joanna falls madly in love with and marries the classy Peter Fielding. But life as the spouse of an English lord is none too satisfying, since Peter would rather be in bed with his male best friend than his wife, and Joanna flees to the US with her two small children. Little Timmy contracts polio and dies; his sister, Sarah, grows up to be a skilled though tortured singer. Sarah dabbles in drugs and the hippie scene for a while, then has a baby girl, Annie, whom she abandons to the care of great-grandmother Leah. Eventually, reconciliations are made all around, and the loose ends nicely tied up. Initially weighed down with clichÉs and a sluggish pace, the novel gets better as it goes along The WW II scenes are exciting, and the author's descriptions of life on an English manor are funny and apt, though her horror of homosexuality seems outdated and inappropriate. An enjoyable, if predictable, read.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1994
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Ballantine