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In contradistinction to his nostalgic No Dear To My Heart (1947) this is a large canvassed family novel with as full a quota of exotics, erotics and erratics as any big family could gather under one roof. The ""roof"" in ""Sycamores"", estate of the late Senator Bigelow secure behind the extra high levees of the Wabash. Jim Bigelow, sole surviving son long estranged from his father, comes home to take on the mantle of authority, the leadership of the clan. A huge family reunion is planned, despite the rampaging Wabash. But the story centers chiefly on the inner conflicts that threaten the immediate household which includes not only Jim, fairly newly arrived, but his old Aunt Sophie, set on maintaining the Status Quo; Clarence the Wild Boy and his mute mother Hester, guardian of her son, but grieving over the lost daughter; the Vaughans, parasites and an odd trio, the wife an alcoholic, the father waiting twenty years in idleness for his mother's death- and wealth, the son, an aesthete, fancying himself in love with Jim's daughter April; hymn singing Nora, the cook; Natalie Carter, an actress, who brings her well-heeled lover to Sycamores to persuade Jim to return to her bed, preferably under bonds of matrimony. On the periphery, the young sculptress Jim loves, the old mother, Mrs Vaughan, in her dotage, and the doctor, who at 80 still loves her; and the Enemy across the river, who plots to breach the leaves and let the floods take over. Eventually, after the clan reunion breaks up, Nature outwits even the plotters- and the river solves of the problems of survival of the fittest... The elements for a half dozen novels are here compounded into one, almost too full of conflicts for credibility.

Pub Date: Dec. 25th, 1952
Publisher: Doubleday