CHANCES by Jackie Collins


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As usual, there's lots of crudely written (though never Robbins-foul) sex in Collins' new book, but this isn't what you'd call a ""sex novel"": no, it's a good old two-track family saga (heavy on Godfather material), fairly readable in the first half, increasingly tedious after that. Collins begins with a neat teaser as a half-dozen characters are caught in the 1977 N.Y.C. blackout: gorgeous tycoonette Lucky Santagelo, whose tax-evading father Gino is on his way back to the US to reclaim his empire; her homosexual brother Dario; black society matron Carrie, on her way to meet a blackmailer; Carrie's D.A. son Stephen; etc. And from there on most of the novel is a flashback starting circa 1920, with short chapters alternating between the two family founders (whose paths occasionally cross). Gino grows up as a tough, short, sexy N.Y. streetkid; he's soon in jail (where he saves the life of little Costa, acquiring a lifelong pal); he becomes a bootlegger's legman, then bootlegs on his own with help from gangster Enzio; he briefly turns saintly out of pure love for Costa's sister Leonora, but she betrays him; he marries blowsy Cindy, has her killed when she cheats on him; he dabbles with socialite Clementine ("" 'Instead of sucking my nipples, lick them,' she suggested"") and does some killing for her homosexual Senator husband; he's wrongly sent to prison for his own father's murder, then marries much younger Maria--daughter of cruel old flame Leonora!--and cements a Las Vegas empire. Meanwhile, little black Carrie is made a teenage whore by her grandmother, raped by her uncle, turned into an addict by her pimp; after hospitalization, she has a brief respite as a showgirl, gets pregnant (perhaps by Gino), has baby Stephen and returns to prostitution with classy vigor; but after Stephen is kidnapped (godfather Enzio's thugs rescue him), she weds sweet producer Bernie--who conceals her past and gives her a whole new identity. All this is serviceable rags-to-riches fare, but the rest--Gino's gangland feuds, the growing-ups of wild Lucky and staid Stephen--is dullish, with an implausible final series of killings and crossing paths. Much too long, then, but it's unpretentiously packed with action, bedroom and otherwise; so fans of low-level sagas may want to slog on through.

Pub Date: Aug. 28th, 1981
Publisher: Warner