The Immigrant’s Daughter

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The Lavettes are famous and wealthy figures in the San Francisco Bay area. Barbara’s philosophy and style were shaped in the 1930’s. Now she finds that the new generation does not value her passionate liberal beliefs. She enters old age without the solace of a male friend. Her daily rambles through the Embarcadero have no snap and little vigor.

As an antidote, her run for Congress is just short of miraculous. No longer the aging dowager of a dynasty, Barbara campaigns to win. The ensuing excitement revitalizes even her sex life.

When dirty tricks bring about her defeat, she initiates a newspaper assignment in El Salvador. There in the jungle, she learns again that age alone is never a bar to love. Invigorated, she writes a Pulitzer Prize-quality story and shrugs off the shackles of decrepitude.

In her public life, Barbara expresses her hope for the world, but her private life is no stagnant backwater either. She lives in the midst of an adoring family. Her son, now a successful surgeon, is the only one deprived of her healing compassion, and in time she manages to clear even that last blocked channel.

With this novel, Fast marks his fiftieth year of writing, an anniversary welcomed by literary colleagues. Despite his panoramic subject and intense characterizations, he writes with economy and grace. All readers who enjoy explorations of the American experience will relish the entire Lavette saga, several of whose earlier installments enjoyed best-seller status.