A wealthy romance writer, her three English granddaughters, and the dastardly lawyer who attempts to destroy them all are featured in Conran's new two-generation saga—as businesslike and unsuspenseful as Lace (1982), and as destined for mega-promotion. Elinor O'Dare suffers the disadvantage of having grown up in America, the daughter of a brutish father and his submissive wife, but she manages to make something of herself nevertheless as a WW I Red Cross nurse, the steadfast wife of an upper-class English layabout, and, finally, one of the world's most successful romance writers. Charged with raising her three granddaughters after the death of her only son, old-fashioned O'Dare leans on attorney and family friend Joe Grant for advice and emotional support. When Joe dies his son, Adam, takes over Elinor's financial affairs, and so the O'Dare clan's tragic fate is practically sealed. As Conran reveals much too early in this lengthy yarn, handsome, coldhearted Adam is a compulsive gambler with steadily mounting debts. Thus it comes as no surprise to anyone but the four O'Dare women (the granddaughters include Clare, the judgmental prude; Annabel, the beautiful airhead; and Miranda, the feisty businesswoman) that Adam soon has his hand in the till. As the O'Dares marry, separate, and reunite with an assortment of virtually interchangeable men, they blithely ignore Adam's gambling addiction—but the discovery that he's bisexual serves to remove the veil of idealism from their eyes. Adam is booted out of Miranda's and Annabel's beds; Elinor is delivered from a prison-like nursing home; and the O'Dares are rescued from—horrors!—life with only a minimal financial cushion. For their own money, readers get: the Cannes Film Festival, a palace in southern France, the New York modeling scene, swinging- Sixties London, Europe during WW I, much discussion of love and the importance of female orgasm, and an avalanche of detail on how trust funds operate. Conran should do well, as always.
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