by Noel Barber ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 1, 1983
An all-purpose, WW II action/romance whopper from the author of Tanamera: bits of dogged sex, spotty suspense, smitches of historical events with real-personage walkons--all delivered with trench-coat solemnity. The narrator is Larry Astell, scion of a French-American clan in possession of those famed champagne vineyards centered in the village of Douzy. (The Astell wines are stored in miraculous underground ""pyramids""--caves and tunnels first excavated by the Romans.) And in 1932 Larry commutes to a journalist job in Paris while at home, under the eagle eye of Grandmother (""La Chatelaine""), are: Papa; Mother; brother/sister twins Guy and Anna; and a frequent guest--the beautiful Sonia, daughter of the Italian ambassador to Paraguay, Signor Riccardi. Soon, then, sinister political events escalate--as do amorous tremors within. Larry and Sonia make love amongst red poppies; Guy has fallen madly in love with Jewish Olivia; and Anna's beau, to La Chatelaine's disgust, is German Willi--an international houseful guaranteed to touch all bases in the deadly gaines to come. While Larry snoops and scoops (new brother-in-law Willi relays the latest poop from the Reich), Sonia inexplicably becomes engaged to young diplomat Count Francesco de Feo in Italy. (Larry will later discover that this had something to do with Riccardi's nasty secret and German blackmail.) Meanwhile, Willi in Dusseldorf has been beaten to a pulp for not toeing the Nazi line, and must enter the Army. The Germans invade France; Larry and Sonia escape with a horde of refugees; Larry chauffeurs de Gaulle, even ghosts a propaganda message, scoops the news of a Free French movement. But the women's troubles soar: Anna is shunted into a brothel (thanks to the Astells' horrid ex-nanny); Olivia, rescued once by Papa (he's official liaison between the Germans and the champagne houses), goes underground; assorted rescues ensue--involving Larry, poor Willi (who dies), Guy (a spy), and Gaston, former Astell chauffeur and also (surprise!) Mother's lover. And the final big caper is in the pyramids, which hide the makings for a deadly chemical--the Germans' Last Trump card: by VE day the gang's all at Douzy, except for Papa. . . who went down with his wine. Like Tanarnera: vin ordinaire, but lots of it.
Pub Date: May 1, 1983
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1983
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