Golden Age

Knopf. Oct. 2015. 464p. ISBN 9780307700346. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385352444. F
Centering on the strained relationships and dissolved marriages of the children of family pillar Frank Langdon, this final volume in Smiley's "Last Hundred Years" trilogy, (after Some Luck and Early Warning) follows Richie's volatile political career in Washington, DC; Michael's reckless financial scams in New York; and Janet in California, slowly growing distant from her family. This time, the years span 1987 to 2019, with the family farm in Iowa falling victim to foreclosure and Smiley predicting the Langdons' reactions to political events in the years to come. Spotlighted are the intricate relationships among cousins, whose stories weave in and out while moving between California and New York, and Chicago and Washington, DC. The appearance and departure of the surprise family member, Charlie, feels abrupt, as if placed there to add additional drama to an already detailed work. Smiley is most successful in relaying historical fiction; chapters set in the future often seem extraneous. Yet the boon of Smiley's writing is her unforgettable characters and unexpected relationships, such as the bond between siblings Henry and Claire in their later years and the friendship between cousins Emily and Chase, even as their parents remain estranged.
VERDICT A fitting conclusion to the trilogy, leaving readers wondering what the future holds in store for the once united but now far-flung family.
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