Sins of the Fathers by Susan Howatch

Sins of the Fathers by Susan Howatch

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This is an epic tale of the rivalry between several generations of the Van Zale clan and the Sullivan family. Rivals in their professional lives of Wall Street banking, as well as their personal lives, Sins of the Fathers is an intense, emotionally charged drama.

There is literally nothing the Van Zale heirs will not do to maintain control of one of the largest investment banks in the country… lie, cheat, steal, kill or sell their souls to the devil. And Susan Howatch has the amazing ability to present multi-dimensional, well drawn characters like Cornelius Van Zale who hides his human frailty and low self esteem behind a shell of iron, nerves of steel, and cunning strategical maneuvers. It’s a lonely life at the top with a heavy price to wield that kind of power. He does have three true friends… but how long can that last when they are all fighting over the same women?

Typical of Howatch’s novels, the plot is divided into six sections – each told in the first person by a different character. So as the plot progresses, you intimately enter the psyche of the various primary characters. As a result, you get to share their innermost private thoughts, their memories of the past and their hopes for the future. You will love them and hate them. And it’s a plot you will long remember.

Sins of the Fathers has elements of philosophical reflection, intellectual references to the arts: movies, classical poetry and plays, and medieval philosophy. And psychology! The book provides an abundance of psychological issues that make great fodder for book club discussions or personal contemplation: the unintended consequences of wealth and power, the damage caused by infidelity, overly protective parents, twisted relationships between step-siblings, and above all, the futility of seeking revenge. That’s what this saga is all about: love and hate, lust, power, money, greed, revenge, alcoholism, and violence.

Sins of the Fathers is the sequel to The Rich Are Different but can be read as a stand alone novel because Howatch goes to a lot of trouble to provide adequate detail of the preceding events that occur in this family saga. However, do yourself a favor and read The Rich are Different first. You will be glad you did. Both books are wonderful. While The Rich are Different spans from 1922 to 1940, Sins of the Fathers picks up the story in 1949 and continues several more generations up to 1967.

Rated 5 Stars July 2014

All contents © 2014 Lois Weisberg. All rights reserved.

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