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Murdoch (In Her Own Image, 1985) is wife of newspaper mogul Rupert; thus the title raises hopes of a good, sleazy roman à clef--but her story of a Colorado gift who rises to the helm of a great press empire is tepid stuff indeed. In 1922, Yarrow McLean is born into a Colorado newspaper family--both father James and grandfather Jock run their own gazettes in places like Platte City and Galena. Naturally, the gal has ink on her fingers; and so when James dies of a heart attack after doing battle with the printers' union, Yarrow sheds her wartime husband and leaps right into the running of the Platte City Journal. What follows is a story of great professional success and a bittersweet personal life. Yarrow ends up running newspapers in America and England (Murdoch is at her best in describing the technical details of acquisition and boardroom battle), but her decades-long affair With wealthy stockbroker and 1960 presidential candidate Elliot Weyden is marked by his inability to give up his clinging English wife until it's too late: he dies of a heart attack in 1987, just as he and Yarrow are about to enjoy a few golden years together. And Yarrow's kids are all disappointments to her, too, bickering little snots just waiting to divide up McLean Publishing amongst themselves--so Yarrow cunningly turns over the whole empire to the handsome and enterprising son of an old rival, and prepares to settle in for a little genteel retirement before heading to that big -30- in the sky. Competently written but far too small, scale for a large scale (neatly 600 pages) novel with aspirations to best-sellerdom: Murdoch can describe a modern newspaper plant with the best of them, but her story lacks the gripping people, penetrating plot, and the certain touch of--well--nastiness that is the sine qua non in battling family sagas.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1987
Publisher: Morrow