Sam and Henny Pollit have too many children, too little money, and too much loathing for one another. As Sam uses the children's adoration to feed his own voracious ego, Henny watches in bleak despair, knowing the bitter reality that lies just below his mad visions. A chilling novel of family life, this work is acknowledged as a contemporary classic.
"psychological torture in the best way"
Henrietta, privileged and sheltered, expected a smoothly comfortable society life in Washington when she married Sam Pollitt, a handsome self-made biologist. Ten years later, Henny is a skinny, screaming drudge with five children, a raging wreck of a woman driven by 'hate, horror, passion or contempt'. But Sam, whose impractical idealism has brought his family to near-ruin, is unchanged: still at sea in all adult affairs, an absurd hypocritical buffoon but a genius with children, except Louie, his eldest daughter.
This last great work by one of the century’s great writers is a large and original novel of betrayal and self-delusion, madness and consuming passions, that recreates to chilling effect the political turbulence of the American Left and the clamor and menace of the McCarthy Right. Not since her classic The Man Who Loved Children has Stead fashioned such willful and memorable characters as Emily Wilks and Stephen Howard.