In this tragedy-laden saga spanning the 20th century, Lynch ( Deathly Pale ) portrays a convincing family of wine makers in New York's Finger Lakes region. Irish immigrant Liam Brennan learns wine production at Christian Weidener's farm and marries his daughter, Helga, who bears a daughter, Helen. When Helga and Weidener die in a steamboat explosion, Liam finds solace in alcohol until Helen's level-headed governess dispels his self-pity, soon becoming his second wife and mother of his son, Kevin. While the winery flourishes under Liam's direction, the Brennans endure heartaches and crises. Marriage and motherhood precipitates Helen's alcoholism, while Kevin sustains serious injuries in World War II before his restless wife deserts him and their children. The clan's third generation faces a hostile takeover of the winery. The universality of this family's problemsalcoholism, martial discord, shattered romances, dissipation, illnessgives the novel a haunting impact, as does the continuity of life in catastrophe's aftermath. Detailed descriptions of wine making add an interesting dimension. (Nov.)
This generational story is set in the wine country of upstate New York. Liam Brennan flees Ireland for America in 1908 after a pub brawl, works on the railroad until injured, and settles in the Finger Lakes area because of its beauty and the beauty of a grape grower's daughter. Through generations of hard work, expert help, and determination, the Brennan Winery succeeds only to fall out of family control and eventually to reestablish itself. The background and story are appealing, but the characters are flat and the dialogue cliche-ridden. This is a patchwork of popular impressions of America over the last 60 years. Only for diehard fans of the family saga. Allayne C. Heyduk, Riverside Sch., Oneonta, N.Y.