DIVA by Carol Kane


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Kane's fiction take two (following Blood and Sable, 1988) is another swish-buckling romantic saga, rife with FabergÉ eggs and Louis Vuitton trunks. But in this belle Époque epic, she throws a few interesting curves, exploring the tangle of Balkan politics in the years before WW I, and the sometimes stormy relationship between a beautiful mother and her even more gorgeous daughter, the opera star Maeve Devereaux. To start things off with a jolt, Moira and Maeve escape a British concentration camp in South Africa, then ate paraded across the capitals of Europe to raise funds for the Boer cause, escorted by handsome Scan Farrell, the illegitimate son of the King of Montenegro. Moira quickly learns how to finance herself by sleeping with princes, and even with Scan briefly, though it's Maeve who falls in love with the roguish half-Montenegrin before he's interned in a cell somewhere in Serbia. In Paris, Maeve takes the music world by storm (singing with Caruso and Chaliapin) and marries a Teutonic banker, Dietrich von Reuter, who nearly dies of shame when she appears as a scantily clad Salome in Strauss' opera. However, it's suicide, not embarrassment, that eventually claims his life, after he entangles his bank in Balkan plotting--leaving Maeve free to wed Scan, who, since his release, has been fighting the Turks. The happy couple tuck themselves in in Paris just as WW I commences, with further separations likely in store, since Sean's first love seems to be war. Plot buzzes around this novel like a fly, which the author can't seem to swat down. Still, it's eventful, with famous faces from T.R. to Mata Hari making cameo appearances--and surely it's the first commercial confection to document the Montenegrin Siege of Scutari.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1990
Publisher: HarperCollins