By the author of Golden Hill (1982), this saga of rampant ambition, torrid romance, and underworld machinations chronicles the careers of two girlhood chums who begin life in the dismal working-class London of post-WW II and achieve, respectively, one through fair means and one through foul, the heights in journalism and in the cosmetics industry. From the beginning, the ""friendship"" between sweet-tempered, square-shooting Sylvie and self-seeking, unscrupulous Nell is based on Nell's taking advantage of her friend in ways Sylvie is too naively loyal to see through. After a stint as roommates, they go their separate ways, but not before Nell has callously seduced Sylvie's aunt's lover, stolen her own widowed mother's life's savings, has given birth to and abandoned an illegitimate and, through evil calculation, ruined the relationship between Sylvie and her True Love. While Nell goes off to Canada and then America to find the glorious destiny she feels life owes her, Sylvie remains in London, quickly carving a niche for herself near the top in celebrity journalism. Eventually she meets and marries a successful composer, with whom she is phenomenally happy, until Nell steps back into her life only long enough to upset the husband so much that he has a fatal car accident. For her part, when she is not busy ruining lives, Nell manages to snare a wealthy older husband, fails to come to his aid when he has a heart attack and drowns while swimming, and uses his money to found a Mary Kaye kind of cosmetics empire. Through a series of developments that verge on the ludicrously implausible, both women find themselves embroiled in a mafia-tainted gambling scandal in the Bahamas, the revelation of which will lead to Sylvie's ultimate triumph and her villainous former friend's downfall. An unappealing mishmash of a book--with plotting that's simply disastrously bad, utterly swamping what might have been a passably readable novel.