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Ritz (a biography of Marvin Gaye, Divided Soul, 1985) follows one spicy show-biz melodrama (Family Blood, 1991) with another: this time in the tale of three generations of black female performers pounding on closed doors in Hollywood and New York. Nineteen-year-old Georgia Harmony arrives on L.A.'s hip black Central Avenue in 1945 fully expecting to become the next Lena Home, and right away sets to work ensuring her fame by entangling three powerful male admirers into her steel-gauge net. Her lovers include Herb Montgomery, a black filmmaker who casts Georgia in a low-budget movie that never makes it off the southern black theater circuit; Sol Solomon, a screenwriter from Brooklyn who loves Georgia but can't bring himself to marry her; and Peter Gold, the rich son-in-law of a studio mogul who abruptly flees to Europe with Georgia in tow. Gold dies shortly thereafter, leaving Georgia with a daughter, Chanel, who only Georgia knows was sired by Montgomery. Georgia returns to the States and a life of occasional modeling gigs and sitcom roles, while Chanel grows up overweight, neglected, and angry. As an adult rhythm-and-blues performer, Chanel defies her fastidious mother by abusing drugs and having an illegitimate daughter of her own, and it's Marika Harmony, having inherited her grandmother's beauty and her mother's guts, who wins fame and fortune as a pop singer in New York--helped, coincidentally, by Sol Solomon's nephew, Herb Montgomery's son, and a previously unconnected black psychologist, all of whom love Marika madly. Flushed with triumph, Georgia and Chattel confess the identities of their daughters' fathers to People magazine while the Harmonys' male admirers plan a movie starring Georgia and Marika--all of them content, it seems, just to be of service to the objects of their desire. Sappy, soapy, and forgettable.

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 1992
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Donald Fine