In GOLDBERG VARIATIONS, New York Times bestselling author Susan Isaacs writes about how family and business relationships can become intertwined. An aging matriarch is beginning to worry about who will pick up where she leaves off. Years before, when her husband did not resist the Mafia’s demands on his trucking company, Gloria took their two sons and left him. With the two trucks she got from her husband’s company, Gloria started her own business in New Mexico: Glory Inc.
"Susan Isaacs has written a story that at its heart is about Teshuva (reconciliation). When the differences of experience, money, relationships and expectations reverberate through the generations, it is through the differing points of view, from old to young, that all is revealed."
Glory Inc. brings beauty products and services to women in small towns throughout the Southwest and Western United States. Because of Gloria’s business savvy and experience as a model, her company has become well-respected and profitable. Gloria understands that most women don’t know how to do right by themselves when it comes to their looks, and she is determined to show them the way. And she does. Women book appointments sometimes years ahead for the makeover experience that Glory Inc. has developed and nurtured so well.
When Keith Thompson leaves her company --- and their friendship --- after 17 years, Gloria no longer has an heir apparent. She must begin again and train someone new to take over. She decides to invite her three adult grandchildren from New York to come out to Santa Fe and visit at her expense, in the hopes that she can find a successor for her company among them. There is Rachel, the spirited legal aid and daughter of Gloria’s now-deceased favorite son, Travis. And then there are the children of Gloria’s other son: Matt, the charming PR man, and Daisy, a Paramount Studio mogul. These relationships are all strained; Gloria has not been judicious with her family.
The story is told through alternating points of view, chapter by chapter. The reader meets Gloria and each of her grandchildren through their own and each other’s eyes. Everyone has something to say about life, love and family history as they all meet up in New Mexico for the weekend. Each of the grandchildren has time with Gloria, and they all visit her corporate headquarters to meet the staff. The two young women get to experience a makeover firsthand, and Gloria approves of their new looks. Matt meets with the public relations department and has a meeting of the minds. There are possible opportunities for all of her grandchildren, but as far as Gloria is concerned, only one can have the top job. Will any of them take her up on her offer?
As a near-80-year-old woman attempts the necessary steps to enter into the lives of her grandchildren, the question becomes: Will this family meeting that is full of recriminations and anger become the turning point that Gloria needs to find the solution for her company and her legacy? Only time will tell.
Susan Isaacs has written a story that at its heart is about Teshuva (reconciliation). When the differences of experience, money, relationships and expectations reverberate through the generations, it is through the differing points of view, from old to young, that all is revealed.
Reviewed by Jennifer McCord on October 12, 2012