LEONIE by Elizabeth Adler


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Set at the turn of the century, this elaborately plotted and lushly woven romance chronicles the fortunes of sensuous and exquisite L‚onie Bahri, who begins her career as a shopgirl in Paris and winds up an internationally acclaimed and universally adored chanteuse. Featuring an extensive and vividly drawn cast of characters, Adler's first novel plays out its several dramas against the globe-spanning backdrops of Pads, New York, the south of France, Brazillian jungles, Florida, Cuba and Cairo. At the heart of the novel is the obsessive passion borne for L‚onie by the charismatic but ruthless Duc de Courmont, who makes her his mistress and showers her with every luxury imaginable, only ultimately to lose her through his cruel and relentless possessiveness. Fleeing de Courmont's smothering control, L‚onie seeks refuge in a home he had previously deeded her on the Cote d'Azur, where a lighthearted fling with a young French aristocrat leads to pregnancy. When de Courmont gets wind of this dalliance, he has the Frenchman murdered, and moves heaven and earth to track down the child. But L‚onie, knowing that de Courmont could use her daughter against her, reluctantly gives the baby to its uncle who promises to give her a safe and loving home at his rubber plantation in Brazil. As the child, Amelie, grows to maturity, believing both her parents to be dead, L‚onie meanwhile forges an independent life for herself as a performer, but never resigns herself to her painful separation from her only child. Through a series of passably plausible coincidences, Amelie eventually learns the truth of her parentage, and she and L‚onie are reunited in Paris. Through some less passably plausible coincidences, Amelie then meets and falls in love with de Courmont's son. When it looks to L‚onie that Monsieur le Duc will finally be able to get Amelie in his net, she determines to do away with him once and for all. But when she confronts him at last, she finds she can't bring herself to harm him. Destiny, however, intervenes, and de Courmont is dispatched when a fire breaks out on his yacht. Needless to say, the book closes with lots of happy-ever-after for mother and daughter alike. Still, textured and evocative descriptions, a good eye for the telling detail, and overall control over a plot that could easily have run off the rails make L‚onie a literate and engaging entertainment. Britisher Adler is a newcomer to the school of cream-puff fiction but has more than her share of promise.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1985
ISBN: 0440146623
Publisher: Villard/Random House