The Pursuit of Happiness
Atria, Oct 19 2010, $16.00
In 1945, wannabe writer Sara Smythe decides to join her playwright brother Eric in New York. Her parents are horrified that their single daughter will live the bohemian lifestyle in the notorious Greenwich Village. However, heeding Eric’s advice that their hometown of Hartford is known for Twain losing money and Stevens selling insurance between writing edgy poetry, she leaves home.
Surprisingly she obtains a prestigious position at Life magazine. At one of her sibling’s frequent bashes attended by Communists, artists and probably FBI agents, Sara and Stars and Stripes reporter Jack Malone meet. They share a night of passion. However, the McCarthy inquisition is just beginning tearing families and lovers apart. Years later at the funeral of Jack’s wife, Sara meets his daughter divorced single mom Kate.
This is a timely exhilarating post WWII epic drama in which the tragedy of McCarthyism is what it did to split families. None of the cast is fully developed as the insightful story line focuses on what happened and what might have happened if the optimism coming out just after war ended was allowed to blossom and not be killed by unchallenged phony patriotic pedagogues. Douglas Kennedy provides a powerful profound tale with applications to subsequent eras.