3.84 (96 ratings by Goodreads)
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Product details

  • Paperback | 560 pages
  • 120 x 180mm
  • Random House Children's Publishers UK
  • Corgi Childrens
  • London, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 055212060X
  • 9780552120609

Review Text

Chunky servings of family saga, 1880-1960 - with one branch of a Sicilian family tangling in Italian politics while the other (intermarried with WASPs and Jews) soars into banking, movies, and ladies' wear. The European, less dominant branch starts with Franco Spada - a sexy servant who's framed for murder by his jealous master (Sicily's richest Prince) but survives a decade of hard labor and is finally pardoned, thanks to the now-widowed Princess; Franco then becomes a socialist publisher-politician as he and the chic Princess raise twin sons (out of wedlock); sensitive son Tony will become a Cardinal (despite lusting flesh); crude son Fausto tries to avenge Franco's murder (by the Mafia), flirts with Fascism, but becomes disillusioned in Ethiopia and winds up sacrificing himself to save his Jewish wife and half-Jewish children from ruthless German Nazis. Stewart's main attraction, however, is the US branch - begun when Franco's kid brother Vittorio is adopted by a childless Manhattan matron and her reluctant, bigoted banker-husband. Renamed Victor Dexter, the lad slowly earns his adoptive father's respect, weds his beautiful adoptive cousin, and is soon the innovative president of the bank. Victor is haunted, however, by some Brooklyn gangster acquaintances of his youth (he accidentally killed one of them), and one bootlegging hood in particular torments him with blackmail and dirty tricks till Victor has the creep eliminated. There are problems at home, too, of course: wife Lucille turns cold; a long affair with secretary Julia ends badly; there's an ugly divorce. Nor does the second generation shine: son Drew is a high-living, stock-manipulating stinker; daughter Lorna and her concert-pianist husband are killed in a car crash. But things go somewhat better for daughter Barbara - who becomes wife-adviser to Jewish, philandering, adorably vulgar movie-maker Morris ("The King of Comedy"). And the last chapters focus largely on Victor's granddaughter Gabriella, orphaned child of Lorna - an obese girl who becomes a beautiful dress designer, weds handsome Ensign Nick Kemp (who has used her in a bit of pre-WW II spy stuff), suffers when POW Nick is buried alive, but recovers to become the "Queen of Seventh Avenue" and devoted wife-partner of a Jewish garment king with Mafia and union problems. As in A Rage Against Heaven (1978), Stewart has his problems here with anachronistic dialogue, rampant cliches, nonstop stereotypes, and gratuitous dollops of mechanical sex. And the whole shapeless enterprise is much too crudely episodic to generate the momentum needed for top saga entertainment. Still, chapter by chapter, it's unpretentiously readable fare - passable, varied melodrama/romance for undemanding fans of the genre. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

96 ratings
3.84 out of 5 stars
5 23% (22)
4 45% (43)
3 26% (25)
2 6% (6)
1 0% (0)
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