Two young men sign up for the Army in June 1917. One is Jed Gates, scion of the wealthy Gates department store family. The other is David Warshinsky, who's escaping the poverty of the Lower East Side tenements.
The two youths survive the fire of Verdun, emerging wounded but alive, and friends for life. Back in New York, Jed, who cannot admit his attraction to David, insists that his grandfather give David a job. But it's David, with his driving intellect, who proves himself with the company. The story of these two families comes to life as the marriages, deaths, births, desires and ambitions of the different characters jump off the page and into readers imagination.
Lustbader has revisited the family-saga format that was so popular in the '80s. She reminds you of why we loved those stories, and her characters are vibrant and full-bodied: the factory hand, the Henry Street Settlement worker, the financier, the artist, the flapper, the religious conservative. This is a gripping story that's lots of fun. SWEET (Jun., 463 pp, $24.95)