|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.92(w) x 4.32(h) x 1.09(d)|
About the Author
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.
Date of Birth:October 9, 1915
Date of Death:October 12, 2010
Place of Birth:New York, New York
Place of Death:Short Hills, New Jersey
Education:B.A., Barnard College
Read an Excerpt
The downstairs neighbors had provided hot soup, cold meats, salad, and a home-baked pie, food enough for a dozen hungry eaters, Eddy Osborne remarked to himself. But there were only his sisters Connie and Lara and Lara’s husband, Davey, at the kitchen table, none of them able to swallow more than a few mouthfuls of the good things. If anyone had told me I’d swallow even that much on the day of my mother’s funeral I wouldn’t have believed it, he thought.
He stood up, poured a cup of coffee from the pot on the stove, and went to stare out of the rain-beaded window at the bleak March afternoon. A shudder chilled his shoulders. Here was the ultimate desolation, the gray gloom and the grief.
Poor Peg, poor Mom! Sometimes the wig had tilted to the side, mocking her gaunt face with a rakish, jaunty look; she had been so vain, too, about the thick, tawny hair that all three of her children had inherited.… And Eddy’s heart broke. Making a little sound like a sob, he covered it with a cough and turned his face.
Lara said softly, “One thing, anyway, should be a comfort. She was never alone. One of us was always with her. And she did appreciate that private room, Eddy. Remember how she kept asking whether you really could afford it?”
“She’d have had that if it had taken my last penny or if I’d had to steal, so help me!”
“Oh,” Lara cried, “she must have known there was no hope for her, yet she never said a word. How brave she was!”
“No,” Connie said. “The real reason is that she was afraid to admit how lousy life can be.”
The grim, harsh comment shocked. But there was no sense in challenging it. Connie would defend herself by saying that she was merely looking truth in the face. She had few illusions, young Connie. The elder sister felt that was a pity, but answered only, “Let’s go inside. No, leave the dishes, Connie. I’ll clear them later. I’ll be needing something to do tonight after you go home.”
The living room had once been an upstairs sitting room when the house had been built for a banker’s family a century ago, before everybody who could afford to move had left town for the new wooded suburbs in the hills. The small space was dominated by the television, whose great blank eye was staring as they all sat down. It would have been unseemly to activate it on this night, and no one did.
Connie pulled down the shades, complaining, “Damn rotten weather!” as if, on this day at least, the rain need not have been so furious or the wind so wild in the trees.
“Your mother would say,” Davey responded in his mild way, “that rain like this nourishes the earth.”
No one answered. Yes, Eddy knew, that would be typical of her. When, in high school, he had broken his arm she had told him to be thankful he hadn’t broken it before the soccer season. But I’m not like her, he thought, nor is Connie.
Too restless to be still, he went back to a window again and raised the shade that Connie had lowered. The houses across the street were mirror images of this one where Lara lived, a tall, shingled Victorian with a second door cut into its front to accommodate an upstairs flat. Before each house lay a narrow, woebegone yard bordered with neglected, weedy shrubs and dotted with piles of soiled, melting snow. Above the rooftops, in a brown sky, thin clouds raced toward evening.
“God, what a miserable way to live,” he thought. “So many years gone by already in this confining town!”
He turned around into the room. Davey was reading the newspapers. The two women had laid their heads back and closed their eyes. The silence ticked in Eddy’s head.
Then the street door slammed, vibrating through the walls. In the flat below, where five children were crammed, a fight exploded. Somebody was trying to start a balky engine in the driveway next door; it wheezed, it whirred, it coughed.
An impetuous fury rose in Eddy. No rest, no privacy, no beauty, no money!
His sisters had not moved. They were exhausted. And he felt compassion for them, for their tenderness in a tough, hard world. He believed that he understood them; he knew how desperately Lara longed for a child and would probably never have one; he knew how Connie, like himself, longed for betterment, for color, for life, he knew that her feet, like his, wanted to run.…
Now as they rested, unaware of his scrutiny, he observed his sisters. Connie had a nineteen-twenties look, one which was becoming fashionable again; her lips were a bold cupid’s bow, her nose short and straight, her eyebrows two narrow, graceful curves above alert gray eyes. She was unusually vivacious and knew how to make the best of herself. People looked at her. Yet it was always said that Lara was the beauty, having what were called “good bones”; her face was a pure oval, and she had contemplative sea-blue eyes, the same color as Eddy’s own.
His, however, were not contemplative, any more than Connie’s were. Their eyes were quick; everything about us two, for better or for worse, is quick, he thought suddenly. And thinking so, it seemed to him that now was as good a time as any to say what had to be said, not that any time was really a good one for the dropping of a bombshell.
He said evenly, “I’ve something to tell you. I hope you won’t be shocked too much, but I’m going to be leaving you. Leaving town. I’m moving to New York.”
“You’re what?” cried Connie, sitting up straight.
“There’s a guy I’ve known since college. He’s an accountant like me, only the difference is that he happens to have an uncle who’s lent him enough to get started in brokerage. He wants a partner. He wants me, and he’s willing to stake me, to take me in with him.”
A gleam of interest shot through Connie’s eyes. “Wall Street?” she asked.
“Yes, ma’am, you bet. Wall Street.”
“Leaving us!” Lara cried. “Oh, Eddy!”
“Minutes away by plane, honey. I’m not leaving you. Not ever.” And he repeated, “A matter of minutes. All right, a couple of hours. Not Afghanistan or the end of the world.” His smile coaxed.
Lara was dismayed. “But you’ve been building up so nicely! I can’t understand why you’d want to leave it all behind like that.”
“Building? Yes. But it’s too gradual, too slow, compared with this opportunity. It’s small potatoes.”
She thought, We’re splitting apart already. Peg’s six hours in her grave. Then it’s true what they say: When the mother dies, the family breaks up. Couldn’t he think of that, Eddy, Peg’s golden boy with the bright hair, the sea-blue eyes, and the nonchalant stance? She felt suddenly hopeless.
Davey asked quietly, “How long have you known this?”
“About three months. I probably should have told you sooner, but I thought, well, we were all going through enough without having any more on our minds, so I waited.” Eddy reached into his pocket. “Look. I had cards printed.”
“ ‘Vernon Edward Osborne, Jr.,’ ” Lara read, and in a voice that rang with sad reproach observed, “You’ve always hated the name Vernon.”
“I know. But just for the card, it’s distinguished. A little different.”
Davey had another question. “Don’t you have to put up any money at all, Eddy?”
“Sure, but not much. I’ve saved twelve thousand dollars out of my earnings, and I was incredibly lucky at cards one night a while back. Made another fifteen, believe it or not. So I’ve got enough to put down for my share of the partnership, and I’ll pay off the balance out of what I make in the market.”
Davey said slowly, “If you make it in the market, you mean.”
“I’ll make it. I have a feel for the market. I’ve kept a phantom investment account in my head. If I’d had the money to do it, actually I’d have made a killing.” When Davey made no comment, Eddy said, “The market’s on the rise, a long rise. Anybody can see that. Besides, you don’t get anyplace in life without taking a few chances. You have to be willing to risk. That’s what this country was built on. All the great inventors, all the industrialists, took risks.”
Davey glanced at Lara, and she saw that he was reading her mind, feeling her sadness, as he always could and did.
Then he said quietly, “To each his own. I guess New York will agree with you, Eddy. It’s no place for us. Lara and I have our places here. The shop’s doing a whole lot better than it did when my dad had it, and I’ve got some inventions, some ideas I’m working on—” He stopped, took Lara’s hand, and pressed it.
She could read her brother’s mind. How good is “a lot better”? Eddy must be thinking as he glanced around the room. It was a pretty room, furnished with secondhand pieces that she had slip-covered herself in a scheme of pink, red, and cream, copied out of a glossy magazine. But the carpet, which had come with the flat, was threadbare.…
Eddy used to come home starry-eyed over some house he had seen or some car he had ridden in. Like Pop before him he aspired; like Pop, too, he’d been quick to imitate the ways of the upper class, its dress, its speech, everything about it. But unlike Pop he was smart. He might do very well. Yes, it was possible. Oh, this was a blow all the same! To lose Eddy, for no matter what reason! To lose his native, almost invaluable good humor, the very sparkle that he brought into the room when he walked in! All this family, this family that was far too small in the first place, would miss him so. The empty space that he would leave would gape at them.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Osborne family - two sisters and a brother - are split apart by dreams and circumstances. Lara, living in a devoted marriage wants nothing more than to keep the family together, Connie wants social status and marriage and Eddy dreams of making money and having power. When a tragedy brings them all together, they must decide what they truly treasure. I liked this book and give it an A!
I can use one word to sum up this novel. Excellent!!!!!!!!! i could not put this book down. The charaters are unforgetable. Eddy, wanting to really be someone big in the fiance world does what he thinks is okay, because it is not hurting anyone begins to spin a web of decption. Lara and her husband is just happy with the way things are. They have the means to become very rich, but needs pushing by eddy to go after it. Connie on the other hand is just looking for real love. But at the same time, she has a taste for the finer things in life. Look where that ends up getting her. You will be on the edge of your seat for this page turner.
Great book for summer reading!