An American dynasty is a novel set in the 1930s, during the depression, and it spans the history of generations of the Gilbert family. It is an account that begins with Jack as a young lad, who is lacking in life experience. Jack has plans to find work and go to college in California, where he has family. On his journey to California he meets hobos, and witnesses the brutal treatment of them by authorities, and a young girl, Mary, who is having to face a future as a prostitute. The tone of this novel is very matter of fact, it is a quaint story and feels of its time.
Life becomes quite jolly for Jack and Mary. They have landed on their feet with the support and kindness of Jack’s aunt and uncle, who are scriptwriters for a film studio. What follows is what Jack did during the war and life afterwards as a businessman, father and congressman.
This novel explores three wars within its narrative and captures its pointlessness and madness well.
I think Jack is a self absorbed character and, at the rate he goes through women, has no loyalties towards any of them. I dislike him, which makes this wholly readable. The women character’s are, if thinking about it now, poorly written in the way they seem only to be there to have sex with their husband and serve dinner to his guests but I think for the years this is set in the women characters are on the money.
I like the brusque way this is written, with very sharp editing and as a thriller or crime novel, it works.
There are faults here and there, with the emotional depths this doesn’t quite reach, faltering and sometimes fairy-tale narrative, the characters that are sometimes flat but it’s appealing, like a trashy John Steinbeck novel. It’s a great read.
I urge you to buy your copy here.