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The Vagabonds
by Nicholas Delbanco

Category: Fiction / General
284 pages; ISBN: 0446530026

Rating: 9/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner


The Vagabonds
Nicholas Delbanco
Warner, Nov 2004, $23.95, 284 pp.
ISBN: 0446530026

In 2003, the three Saperstone siblings (Joanne, David, and Claire) return to their Saratoga Springs, New York hometown to bury their mom Alice. To their shock Alice left her children with a hefty inheritance actually from their deceased grandmother who gained her wealth in 1916 from the vacationing trio of “Vagabonds" Henry Ford, Harry Firestone, and Thomas Edison. Thus they have inherited valuable General Electric stock.

Forty something single mother Joanne sees the money has a savior. Claire, who needs the inheritance the least as she is married to a successful businessman though that relationship seems ready to collapse, resents that mom wants David to live in the ancestral home; she always felt mom favored her little boy over her girls. David has his own problems like being unable to commit to a relationship. As each wonder what happened in 1916 (read the book if you wonder too) they squabble over the estate, but will it bring contentment or a curse as the previous two generations dealt with untimely death and unhappiness.

Well written, Nicholas Delbanco provides a historical subplot inside a contemporary family drama however, the tale contains too many major threads to keep track of what is happening to the prime trio and others. Still the three siblings come across as genuine especially when they argue and grieve at the same time. The 1916 action furbishes insight into famous Americans bringing that era alive through their personas. Fans of relationship tales will appreciate this fine story, but would have enjoyed a deeper look at how the trio got to where they each seem unable to deeply relate to anyone.

Harriet Klausner


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