LADY OF FORTUNE by Graham Masterton


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Masterton's hardheaded, lightly acerbic probe's of men and machines and the gushers of greed that oil the wheels and deals, all in a sturdy period settings (Rich, 1979 and Solitaire, 1983) have produced some marvellously avaricious Napoleons of finance and money grabs. Here, however, the Grab is subordinated to a slapdash woman's odyssey through her in-fighting with two appalling siblings; a rapid levitation from Victorian Scotland purdah to American banking and media stardom; and sexual (one incestuous) whoopla. The dour household of even dourer banker Thomas Watson of Edinburgh includes: a miserably married adulterous wife; son Robert, a villain of the purest gall; son Dougal, one of Robert's lifelong victims; and daughter Effie, who in 1901 at age 17, wants out and yearns to be a banker. It's in London with Dougal that Effie just barely prevents Dougal's arrest in a confidence trick engineered by Robert. Dougal, before he's off to America, conceives, unbeknowst to him, son Alisdair by a simple soul who'll turn up on the Watson's doorstep. Robert will adopt the baby. Meanwhile Effie is learning international banking and discovers from a Rothschild that ""luxury is no vice."" Eventually, Effie will expend some loving on teenage (nephew) Alisdair--and lo! baby Kay is born in the States, where Effie becomes a banking fool, piling up a fortune. There'll be a marriage in 1928, an affair with a splendid mob boss, and the arrival of Robert like a cloud bursting with acid rain. Of course, there are showdowns (verbal and otherwise--the Watsons are prone to hurl food at one another). At the close, elderly Effie spills a family secret. A pace or two down from Masterton's earlier novels, but still rather blowsy fun.

Pub Date: June 28th, 1985
Publisher: Morrow