Before sliding into talky financial finaglings in its second half, Wyse's new novel crackles quite nicely with a combination...



Before sliding into talky financial finaglings in its second half, Wyse's new novel crackles quite nicely with a combination of ugly-duckling ambition, real-estate-biz cynicism, and rich-N.Y.-Jewish family sparring. The granddaughter of the title is un-pretty Cassie Cassman, who's short and square instead of tall and willowy like sister Stephanie. But Cassie is grandpa Sam's favorite by far: she's the only one who can take over his real-estate empire; she's got brains, unlike her athletic, philandering father (Sam's disappointing son) or her unstable, Gucci-gaga mother Diane (herself the daughter of a super-rich, genteel German-Jewish banker who looks down on the nouveau-riche Cassmans). So, despite Cassie's attempts to make it on her own, Grandpa stage-manages her career, Finally getting her into his own firm as right-hand woman . . . when he threatens to leave the family fortune to medical research. Meanwhile, both Cassie and Stephanie have done disastrously in the romance department: Cassie is happy to have landed terrifically handsome Wall Streeter Jimmy Brown . . . till she discovers his secret homosexual life; and Stephanie rebelliously weds middle-aged has-been crooner Sal Romano, who beats her. And it's with Stephanie's complications out in Las Vegas (where Sam has some shady associates) that the novel starts to lose steam: she winds up shooting rotten Sal--the scandal of which pushes suicidal mother Diane over the edge; and the Las Vegas mob connection to the Cassman fortune finally emerges. Finally, however, Cassie--now completely disillusioned about Grandpa--refuses to let this apparent disaster scuttle her big skyscraper deal: she does a Zeckendorf-style scare, proving that ""No man can lie, cheat, or steal better than a woman."" Some bright, cutting dialogue in the first half--especially in the real-estate office and at the family table--but when contrived melodrama and routine wheeler-dealering take over, this becomes just another passable biz/romance/family mÉlange.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 1981


Page Count: -

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1981