The many, many secrets of a posh Los Angeles clan--as revealed, bit by bit, through the teasing merry-go-round narration of...

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SILVERWOOD

The many, many secrets of a posh Los Angeles clan--as revealed, bit by bit, through the teasing merry-go-round narration of nine family members (or friends) in 1964. The outline of the Prudhomme family-history is not complex: rich New York scion Victor P., a polo-playing Doug Fairbanks type, married regal young Ada Willson (of vague upper-California background) circa 1915; a few years later twin baby sons appeared, Drew and Tony; the family moved to L.A., building the grand Silverwood mansion; Victor soon died (mid-polo); and Ada shifted into imperious widowhood, dying in the early 1950s--when her dear friend, movie-maker Sam Farkas, became an HUAC victim. But what's the real story? What are the true facts of Ada Willson's pre-marital background? (This secret--a dandy sliver of pure Mildred Pierce--is divulged by now-ancient Elodie Swann, the Prudhommes' oldest friend.) What really happened to the Prudhomme fortune in the Crash? What's the nasty truth behind Tony's rocky marriage to second-rate movie siren Nita Paris? What about the bizarre death--frozen in the snow--of Drew's adoring, vacant young wife Dosie? And, above all, what about the bygone suicide (circa 1920) of beautiful Roxanne Pollard, one of Victor Prudhomme's many extramarital dalliances? Admittedly, none of these secrets is particularly original or shocking. Ho-hum, too, is the wispy sentimental frame for these 1964 recollections: a glimmer of budding romance between Ada's granddaughter Daphne and Sam Farkas' son David. But Barnes (Who Is Carla Hart?, Pastora) does a canny job--especially in the first half--of folding back one layer after another, moving back and forth in time with an air of mystery (yet without murkiness). The nine narrators, often placed in amusing juxtaposition, are a largely unhackneyed, zestily varied group of voices--from Victor's 89-year-old sister to Drew's low-class business-partner to licentious Nita Paris. And, throughout, the familiar melodramatics here are edged with irony, flavored with charm and atmosphere--making this satisfying, high-class soap, something along the lines of a small-scale Susan Howatch.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 1984

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Linden/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1984