Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 300
Although there's no dearth here of Caldwell's portable sermonettes on such evils as soft living, [Answer As a Man, a] turn-of-the-century Pennsylvania tale of rags to riches and love tangles, has the ease and zip of the author's earlier period. The hero and true M-A-N of the title is Jason Garrity, only approved kin of his grandfather, Bernard. Bernard is another true M-A-N, plumping for solid male strength and putting a fist in the face of the flabby, whining, slimy world. As for wimmin: "they should niver have the rearing of men children." So Jason has enough gumption to survive childhood and youth in a shantytown house with his widowed mother, his fatuously religious brother John, his dazzlingly beautiful, crippled, vindictive sister Joan; and then, through shrewd business sense and hard work, he begins to stake out his territory, profit-wise. Eventually he'll even be manager of a Pocono summer hotel, the Ipswich House, and he'll use his inheritance of some land to demand shares in the business. But Jason flunks the mating test, marrying whiny, snobbish, slightly stupid Patricia Mulligan by whom he has (he thinks) three children: son Sebastian is really the offspring of wily, charming chum Lionel Nolan. Then Lionel marries Joan; and Molly, the spirited, sensible girl Jason should have married, marries agreeable lawyer Daniel Dugan, nephew of Jason's genial father-in-law Pat. So it takes some years of domestic and fiscal turmoil before Molly and Jason at last entwine hearts…. Finally Patricia and Daniel conveniently expire, and there's a happy fade-out. Still the old Rand-wagon, but less preachment than usual and more gossipy goin's on—so the always-solid-selling Caldwell should really climb the charts with this one.
A review of "Answer As a Man," in Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1980 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), Vol. XLVIII, No. 21, November 1, 1980, p. 1408.