FASCINATION by Hilary Norman


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 Norman, known for such pulpers as Shattered Stars and Chateau Ella, lands in lukewarm water with her latest--the completely unsurprising story of Magdalen Gabriel, a ``woman of ever-changing names, one year Swiss, the next French, and...American.'' Magdalen's driven by nothing exactly, but she is slightly haunted since her beloved papi, Alexander, was torn from her when she was only seven, and under scandalous circumstances that included his drinking buddy, Zeleyev, and a brutalized prostitute. When papi disappears, he takes with him a statue called Eternite made by his father and Zeleyev and composed of a treasure chest full of jewels once owned by a Russian countess. Poor Maggy can't abide her anal Swiss mom and new stepdad, so she runs away to Paris, where she's taught to sing by a Jewish cantor, renames herself Madeleine, tries her hand as a housemaid, and falls in love with Antoine Bonnard, a restaurateur who smokes Gauloises. But he dies of a stroke right after she bears him a son, leaving Zeleyev to help her establish herself in New York. And as Manhattan Maddy, she works at Zabar's, marries a nice private detective whom she meets at the cheese counter, and eventually comes to learn that her old friend Zeleyev has been obsessed with getting his hands on Eternite all along. So obsessed, in fact, that he helps Maddy's long-lost papi do himself in and kidnaps Maddy's son--a little eleventh-hour glitch that Maddy's very own p.i. hub helps her solve. Norman's a very professional writer, but her plot here is tired and her heroine undistinguished. Indeed, the best thing one can say of her (along with her former employer, Monsieur Lussac) is that she was ``the most original maid I have ever known.''

Pub Date: May 11th, 1992
ISBN: 0-525-93469-3
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1992


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