The daughter of Harold Robbins debuts with a Paris romance in which Cinderella marries Prince Charming, only to find he's secretly the Beast. Robbins overstates her heroine's every feeling and supercharges each character into near-caricature. She clearly loves landscape and description and reels off plenty of brand names stickered to the rich and famous. Motherless, penniless American Djuna Cortez, only 21 and alone in the City of Light, has just had her charge card cut off by her surly father, Emile, when she receives a letter stating that she's inherited vast wealth from Emile's father, the well-known painter Joaqu°m Carlos Cortez. (Emile himself is passed over, for reasons revealed only near the close.) Aside from her grandfather's bank accounts, Djuna also inherits his large apartment and studio, his paintings and chateau, publishing rights to his ten journals, and his winery in the Loire Valley. As Djuna reads the journals, the story alternates between her firsthand account of Parisian high society in the mid-1980s and Joaqu°m's notes about his youth as a budding bohemian artist in Paris during the '40s and '40s: his love affairs, models, and ritzy friends, including towering but luminous egoist/hat-designer Mitya Troubetskoy and, much later, budding novelist Pascal Maron, both of whom have been Joaqu°m's lovers and are now partial inheritors. Djuna's snooty half-brother introduces her to six-foot African model Navarine, who in turns leads her into a romance with Jean-August Briard, a strangely reserved but blindingly handsome "cosmopolitan hero out of a Fitzgerald novel" who knows everything about grapes and offers to help save her failing winery. Unfortunately, Djuna discovers only after she marries him that his reserve masks sadism. Within months, she's bruised, battered, and seeking divorce. Then Jean-August really gets mad . . . . Carefully crafted for its genre, but only faintly reminiscent of anything real.
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