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(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

After the death at birth of his only son, New York City financier Paul Werner distances himself from his wife, Marion. Haunted by memories of Anna, the woman with whom he has been in love since she was a servant in his parents’ home, Paul telephones her and is shocked to learn that she is not only happily married but also rearing their child. Disillusioned, Paul resolves to ensure the well-being of his young cousin Meg, who marries the wealthy Donal Powers, a corrupt businessman in New York, against the will of her family.

Paul, who is Jewish, also devotes himself to his firm’s international affairs in Germany, where on a trip he learns of the growing strength of the National Socialist Party. While in Munich, he has an affair with Ilse, a Polish doctor, whose son, Mario, has been arrested by the Gestapo for political activity. Using connections within the business and political communities, Paul attains Mario’s release, an action that prompts him to support Zionist and anti-Hitler groups forming in the United States. Donal, concerned only with securing his fortune, is violently opposed to sanctions against Germany, and he and Paul become bitter enemies. Angered by Meg’s agreement with her cousin on matters concerning the persecution of the Jews, Donal rapes her, which leads to Meg’s divorcing him and starting a new life with her five children. Paul, while touring Germany and France on special assignment with the government during World War II, witnesses much death and destruction. Upon returning home, he finds his wife content to live most of the year in Florida, allowing him finally to experience real love with Ilse, who...

(The entire section is 413 words.)