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Cleary's latest plump entertainment centers on the 1968-80 overdrive of an Australian journalist who scrambles her way to the top--with love decidedly consigned to a fun-day supplement. ""Dad, I'm ambitious. Some day I may own Fleet Street,"" confesses Cleo Spearfield, a sprout from that grand old stand of Labor Party oak, politician Sylvester. But in 1968 Cleo is toiling as a correspondent (for a male-chauvinist Aussie paper) in Vietnam--where she meets predictably rumpled Missouri newsman Tom Border and just happens to witness a My-Lai-type massacre caused by US General Roger Brisson's irresponsibility. Furthermore, Cleo is almost killed in the helicopter by stoned G.I.'s--the first of several near-fatal incidents in her career. Fed up with Aussie journalism, Cleo stomps off to England to write up a storm. . . but falls in with ruthless Lord ""Jack"" Cruze, publisher of the Examiner, a self-made press baron, estranged for years frm his crippled wife Emma (who was raised by two genteel aunts, former owners of an elite brothel). Cleo becomes Jack's mistress, enjoying sex and his company, yet never allowing ""possession."" Tom meanwhile has disappeared (he's writing a best seller). . . while Cleo meets the formidable First Lady of the New York Press, Claudine Roux, publisher of New York's Courier, mother of Alain (and sister of General Brisson!). And Cleo's mild brief fling with Alain startles Jack into gun-play--so Cleo heads for Manhattan, where she begins at Square One working for the Courier. Cleo floats upward on the Courier (Jack has bought stock and influence); Tom marries stewardess Simone; a reporter is killed due to Cleo's Maria sleuthing; a big boardroom battle for control of the Courier is shaping up. But coincidence and Cleo--via blackmail, politics, and executive clout--straighten out the kinks in power and passion, and Tom finally marries Cleo, assuming a new identity: ""Cleo Spearfield's husband."" Like Cleary's The Beaufort Sisters: a thoroughly synthetic but agreeably old-fashioned tale of movers and shakers--served up for popular consumption with buttery ease.

Pub Date: Feb. 11th, 1982
Publisher: Morrow