Reviewer Mary Lignor: Mary is a retired librarian, originally from Connecticut but now living in New Mexico. All her life Mary has loved books and has passed this love on to her daughters. Mary started working in a library when her children were young as an Assistant Librarian and ended up as its Director. Her favorite books are suspense, political intrigue and anything involving the World War II era.
banker Jack Oliver has been biting and scratching his way up the
ladder of success at Philadelphia Trust and Guaranty to the detriment
of his wife and children, (not to mention, mistress) who he only
seems to pay attention to when they can promote his image, and his
friends when they can help him in is business life or anyone else who
has gotten in his way. He has planned his future for years with
the certainty that he would one day become the CEO of the largest
bank in the state of Pennsylvania. He worked his way up from
the lowest position in the bank to the second highest. Then,
Philadelphia Trust and Guaranty is bought by Merchants Bank, one of
the largest banks in the country. Jack is flabergasted when he
is demoted to the bottom rung of the ladder and perhaps out of the
bank all together. He has always lived for his work by ignoring
all the doubtful practices of banking and now that he is at the peak
of what he calls a successful life, everything is about to be taken
A good friend of Jack's, yes, he still has one, suggests that Jack needs a change of scenery and introduces him to Franklin Price (Benny), an old-fashioned president of a small town bank in Virginia, who wants to hire Jack and also tries to advise him on what matters most in life. But, Jack being Jack is very superior and doesn't even try to listen to anything Benny has to say, believing that Benny is a 70ish dinosaur of the banking business and what could he really have to say about how things are run in the 21st Century. Jack felt that he and Benny had nothing in common but does find out finally what success really means and what a wise man Benny really is. And, lo and behold the Merchants Bank decides to come to Virginia to gobble up yet another bank. This is when Jack finally seems to wake up to the fact that success means a lot of different things to different people.
I have to say that I did not like Jack all that much until I read about his parents. His father did nothing but belittle him and his mother. The mother loved to make quilts and was very good at it. She was asked by the parish priest to show a quilt and become a member of the quilting team for the 1976 Bicentennial honoring the state of Pennsylvania. When she was honored her husband told her, "You're wasting your time and my money doing nothing worthwhile sitting on your duff for hours working on fancy blankets and then giving them away. Now you have found a new way to waste your time." And to Jack it was, "Banking, bankers are crooks, they feed off other peoples misery or, are so rich they don't even count their money. Is that what you want to be in life? Count their money? Be a buzzard or a leech?"
It is said that children learn what they see
but, it seems to me that Jack learned all the wrong lessons.
Instead of loving his family first and then his job. He went
the other way. Instead of being kind and supportive of others
he became just like his father. In fact he became his father.
I'm sure that many will think that this is a very compelling story
but it didn't do it for me.
A good analogy would be the
opposite of "Old Yeller". "Old Yeller"
starts out so happy, and ends up in disaster. This book starts
out with someone who is really hard to like. And, even though he ends
up a better person, by the end I had gotten very sick of Jack and
didn't really care all that much about his life. I would have
titled it something like "An Ambigious Life" as it was
really a double-meaning life.
My apologies to Mr. Lively and I do wish you good luck. I'm sure there are many out there who could commiserate with you about Jack, as there were so many takeovers of small businesses this past year by huge conglomerates.