by Beth Anderson
Category: Fiction / General
357 pages; ISBN: n/a
Rating: 5/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Catherine Lloyd
by Beth Anderson
It's 1948 and a bitter feud sparks between Michael Shaunnessey and Emilio Castivenette -- partners in a profitable emerald mine in Columbia -- when Michael's 13 year old daughter, Leigh, is impregnated by Emilio's son, Girardo. The baby is adopted by Michael’s Chinese housekeeper and Leigh’s life carries on but Michael, consumed with anger, takes his revenge on his old partner by stealing over 6 million dollars in emeralds and cleaning out their bank account leaving Emilio a pauper. When Emilio discovers the theft he flies to San Francisco and murders Michael. Michael tells his daughter with his dying breath, where the emeralds are hidden.
And so begins the “second generation” as Leigh Shaunnessey uses her father’s emeralds to fight the sexism and snobbery of the post-war world she was born into to become a lawyer and a prominent politician.
A love affair with the wealthy, well-connected, but resolute bachelor, Ted Montagne, leads to a loveless marriage to his brother, Jason. Still in love with Ted, Leigh continues her affair with her now brother-in-law and an unexpected pregnancy is the result. With one secret baby under her belt, Leigh has no hesitation in hiding the paternity of her second child as long as her career isn’t threatened.
The higher her political star rises, the more vulnerable Leigh becomes as her past and the father of her first baby -- now a ruthless Columbian drug lord -- catch up with her.
The Second Generation is a sprawling novel that spans over thirty years of American political life and social changes. It is well-written and researched but the emotional depth isn’t there. We observe Leigh rather than empathize with her and when she finally frees herself of the anger and deception that had ruled her life, the moment is empty. The emeralds are blamed for the problems (although they serve to keep the third generation in the style to which they have become accustomed) and the bad guys are conveniently dispensed with. But if you love post-war American politics, you’ll enjoy The Second Generation.
Available at Amber Quill Press