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Racy title for a pedestrian book: Actress Leigh's fiction debut is a well-intentioned and sweetly plodding Hollywood saga. Poor Jude Abavas! Happiness keeps eluding him. Jude is the son of Basque parents, Noah and Willamina, who immigrated to Idaho and instilled in their four children the old-fashioned virtues of hard work, family, and love of God. And Jude learned well. In the '30s, he goes to work in the newly built resort of Sun Valley as a bellboy and guide. He watches and learns; he networks. But just when he thinks his future is rosy, he gets poor Thelma pregnant and has to marry her. Jude comes to very much love Thelma and his son, the ""lil' guy,"" but, sadly, loses them in an avalanche. And so, grief-stricken, he moves on to Hollywood, where a rich buddy, the star Wade Colby, makes him his personal assistant. Jude follows the development of TV, is savvy enough to form a studio with Wade, then falls for actress Penelope--except that Wade gets there first, and he and Penelope marry. Though afraid to dream anymore, Jude now marries wild and reckless Madge, who smokes ""magic"" cigarettes and takes little pills to stay awake. Later, ecstatic to learn that Madge is pregnant, Jude also finds her in the arms of two different men--at the same time. Madge aborts the baby and dies, and with her goes the only character with a little oomph. Finally, Wade also dies nobly--of lymphatic cancer--and Jude gets his shot at fame. At a lifetime-achievement awards ceremony, he celebrates his Sun Valley upbringing and the family that made him a success. To literature what primitive art is to painting. Regrettably, virtue is a little boring.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
Page count: 512pp
Publisher: Mira--dist. by Simon & Schuster