David Gilbert’s book, And Sons, opens at the funeral of one Charles Henry Topping. Within the walls of the church, A.N. Dyer, Charles’ best friend from childhood, awaits the fact that he is going to deliver a eulogy. This contributes to his reflecting back on his own life, and to the fact that he has been neglectful in many areas, especially with his three sons.
The story line can feel disconnected and/or confusing at times due to the fact that the narrator is the son of Topping. Topping’s son is the one revealing Dyer’s life. This in itself makes for a unique situation.
Set in New York City, with the upper echelons at a point of disconnect, the story is a one week trip through time, through memories and through explosive moments, as told by Phillip Topping. His narration regarding Dyer and Dyer’s family highlights the fascination the Toppings have for Dyer. Dyer is an author of wide renown and popularity. His is considered an icon, a legend in his time.
The father-son relationship is explored and expanded upon through Gilbert, and through his unique style. The constraints of wealth’s privilege is exposed in a not so kindly fashion. Respect, reflection and redemption are strong issues within the pages.
And Sons is filled with familial forces that border on emotional disregard, through neglect and lack of fatherly demonstration of love. It is a book that is both humorous and sad, and one that can leave you laughing one minute, and angry the next.
If I had to rate this book, I would give it a 3.5 star rating, with 5 being the highest. David Gilbert is sharp and vivid with word imagery and with evoking the characters with their thoughts and feelings. The novel has almost 450 pages, and the best parts, for me, were the last 150 pages.