This is one of Richard Martin Stem's literally and figuratively ranch-styled novels (like Brood of Eagles; unlike his suspense stories) about the original 10,000 acre holdings of the Stanfields which became the California town of that name and first family. . . a grande dame called the Marquesa dying slowly. . . as is a son, a Senator, of leukemia -- he's the only one who knows it; and his two sons -- one who has never married, one who would like to marry only the woman he loves has an institutionalized husband; and the latter's two children, a girl mixing with the newer element -- democratically -- and a boy heading into real trouble, drugs, violence, etc. Love, life and death, and the decline of the almighty (the book opens when the Stanfield harvest of grapes meet the opposition of a local Chavez and then there's a burned down dehydrator and the death of a man) all figure in what is essentially a heavyset-lightweight novel. . . passable of its commercial readier-made kind.