Rich Man, Poor Man – Irwin Shaw

Rich manGreat story spanning the time period from World War II to the beginning of the Vietnam-era about the Jordache family, headed by violent father Axel, mother Mary, beautiful but emotionally unstable Gretchen, overachiever Rudy and ne’er-do-well, yet best of them all, Thom.  Gretchen marries but is unable to sustain a relationship.  Rudy finishes college, establishing a business which makes him a millionaire.  His life is work until he meets his wife, who, unfortunately, is an alcoholic.  After years of failure, Thom finally finds his true calling, the sea, and uses money Rudy invests for him to buy a boat in the South of France.  He now has an enviable life:  a career he enjoys, a new love, a son, and good friends.  He invites Gretchen and Rudy to his wedding. Awakened late at night, Thom learns Rudy’s wife is in trouble at a local bar.  He intervenes, an action that results in terrible tragedy.  That’s a whole lotta of melodrama. Yet, somehow, it just works.

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