August 27, 1990 12:00 PM

by Belva Plain

Nothing a reviewer can say will stay Belva Plain from her appointed rounds—spinning twaddle. Still, one can hardly be blamed for trying to stay the hand of the author of the best-selling but soporific Evergreen, The Golden Cup and Tapestry.

At least Harvest marks the end of the saga of handsome, Goody Two-shoes banker Paul Werner, who has spent three volumes trying to make up for the fact that he married the wrong woman—sickly, whiny Marian. This last installment of the tale centers on Paul’s illegitimate, unhappy daughter Iris. And to prove this isn’t just some trivial domestic drama, Plain sets the narrative against—how to put this—the broad canvas of the turbulent, Vietnam War-torn ’60s.

These things happen in the novel: Steve, the brilliant eldest son of Iris and her handsome, spendthrift plastic-surgeon husband, Theo, becomes embroiled in radical campus politics; after a fight with Iris, Theo has a fling with a comely nurse; Iris almost has a retaliatory affair; in the midst of a fight, Iris accidentally slams the car door on Theo’s fingers, ending his career as a plastic surgeon. Then Paul, who has promised Iris’s mother, Anna, that he will never try to contact the girl, helps put the family back together while keeping his identity secret. Unfortunately the process takes more than 400 pages of pat, platitudinous writing like: “Was there anything noble about Susan’s death?”

Or: ” ‘How will I live with myself?’ Steve cried. ‘I can’t ever undo it.’

” ‘We all have to live with things we can’t undo.” [answered Paul]”

Like this book. (Delacorte, $21.95)

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