From America's master storyteller and writer of historical fiction comes the epic story of the Crown family--first introduced in the New York Times bestseller Homeland. As the second generation comes of age, the Crowns strive to find their place in a turbulent America which stands at the dawn of a new century. From the speedways of Detroit to the unbridled glamour of a young Hollywood, to the daring heights of early aviation--theirs is a story of passion and adventure, glory, and ambition, with all the wonder, promise, and splendor of...American Dreams.
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July 01, 1999
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Excerpt from American Dreams by John Jakes
Fritzi Crown flung her bike on the grass and ran down to the water's edge. She skipped across wet boulders strewn along the shore until she stood where the waves broke and showered her with bracing spray. It was first light, the dawn of a chill morning in early December 1906. Along the horizon the sky was orange as the maw of a steel furnace, metal gray above.
Remembering a recurring dream that had held her in the moments before she woke ' a dream in which she stood on a Broadway stage while thunderous applause rolled over her ' Fritzi threw her arms out, threw her head back like some pagan worshiper of the dawn. The wind streamed off Lake Michigan, out of the east, where lay the mysterious and alluring place that occupied her thoughts in most of her waking moments.
The waves crashed. The wind sang in her ears, a repeating litany that had grown more and more insistent in past weeks. Time to go. Time to go!
Red faced, windblown but exhilarated, she stepped down from the rocks and turned toward the bike lying on the grass shriveled and browned by the autumn frost. The bike was a beautiful Fleetwing with a carmine enamel frame, gleaming silver rims and spokes. It was a "safety" ' wheels of equal size ' now the standard after years of high-wheel models, the kind on which she'd learned.
Fritzi was a long-legged young woman with an oval face, a nose she considered too big, legs she considered too skinny, a bosom she considered flat. She was dressed for cold weather. On top of a suit of misses' long underwear she wore her bathing costume of heavy alpaca cloth ' a separate skirt, a top with attached bloomers, both navy blue. Her cycling shoes were tan covert-cloth oxfords with corrugated rubber soles. For added warmth she'd put on wool mittens and her younger brother's football sweater, a black cardigan with an orange letter P. He had bequeathed it to her after he was thrown out of Princeton. Aknitted tam barely contained her long, unruly blond hair. Altogether it was the kind of costume that her father, General Joseph Crown, the millionaire brewer, disapproved of ' vocally, and often.