THE BALANCE WHEEL by Taylor Caldwall


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While there is small element of surprise in the general plot pattern of Taylor Caldwall's novel, there is the always predictable authenticity of period and regional detail which gives the reader a sense of recognition and participation- sure factors in her popularity. She has turned again to an industrial background for a story of a family dominated industry, a plant making precision tools in a Pennsylvania town in 1913 -- and has built her plot around conflicts within the family. Four brothers -- two of them active in the plant; Charles, steady-going, ""the balance wheel""- idealistic, living wholly in his adored only son Jim and in memories of his dead wife; the second, ambitious, unscrupulous, a social climber, one of whose daughters is in love with Jim; a third brother, aesthete and perfectionist, married to a woman with whom Charles had once been in love; and the youngest, uncouth, violent, with Socialistic fanaticism, who is belatedly brought into active concern in the plant. The struggle for power -- the urge to be in on the ""take"" of the munitions industry in 1913-14 the deliberate playing of one brother against another, these supply motivation of plot, for a reasonably compact and convincing story. The melodramatic build-up at the close, and the sentimental Epilogue hurt the quality of a novel that in many ways shows more perceptive style consciousness than its predecessors. Probably her most nature novel (with many of the qualities of Dynasty of Death) but not as popular in its component parts.

Publisher: Scribner