Belva Plain captured readers' hearts with her first novel, Evergreen, which Delacorte published more than 30 years ago. It topped the New York Times best-seller list for 41 weeks and aired as an NBC-TV miniseries. In total, more than 20 of her books have been New York Times best sellers.
Before becoming a novelist, Belva Plain wrote short stories for many major magazines, but taking care of a husband and three children did not give her the time to concentrate on the novel she had always wanted to write. When she looked back and said she didn't have the time, she felt as though she had been making excuses. In retrospect, she said, "I didn't make the time." But, she reminded us, during the era that she was raising her family, women were supposed to concentrate only on their children. Today 30 million copies of her books are in print. A Barnard College graduate who majored in history, Belva Plain enjoyed a wonderful marriage of more than 40 years to Irving Plain, an ophthalmologist. Widowed for more than 25 years, Ms. Plain continued to reside in New Jersey, where she and her husband had raised their family and which was still home to her nearby children and grandchildren until her death in October 2010.
Readers who have not previously met the Werners and Roths in The Golden Cup and Evergreen will sense something missing when they begin this continuing saga about these tightly knit, aristocratic German-Jewish families. This book contains multiple allusions to past events, yet the first-time reader can still become immediately involved in the narrative, thanks to Plain's adroit blending of complex personalities with a panoramic view of world events. The novel covers the early '20s until the end of World War II. Paterfamilias is Paul Werner, a high-minded banker, a dedicated philanthropist and a reluctant adulterer. His genteel wife Marion, unable to bear children, coolly retreats to her private circle of charitable events and card parties. Although Paul still broods over his first love, Anna, he turns to his exuberant cousin Leah, a flourishing business woman, for a brief, happy affair. It is at a large family gathering that long pent-up emotions explode, and past tragedies, infidelities and hostilities emerge with destructive force. Although there is a historical inevitability to the events viewed here (the 1920 ``Red scare''; Prohibition; the stock market crash; the rise of Hitler) the characters are never predictable. They act with passion and conviction, and their many vicissitudes will not disappoint Plain's fans. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club selections. (May)
Paul Werner, the key figure of a powerful New York banking family, is the protagonist in this saga of one man's concerns with the impending doom of World War II and the plight of his German-Jewish relatives and friends. Paul is caught in a passionless, childless marriage, and he struggles for years with the memory and reality of his first love and subsequent affairs of the heart. All of the characters are fleshed out, and the storyline is rich in historical perspective, attention to detail, and resolution of plot. Another sweeping family saga by a master. For most fiction collections. Literary Guild dual main selection; Doubleday main selection. Virginia A. Doser, Saddleback Coll. Lib., Mission Viejo, Cal.
"Belva Plain is a talented tale-spinner with almost Dickensian ability to keep her stories going."--Philadelphia Inquirer.
"A powerful novel... another winner... Ms. Plain weaves her story like a master craftsman entwining the colorful threads of each character's life embroidered with the golden strands of historical details."--Rave Reviews