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From Ellis (The Only Sin, Rich Is Best), the story of two orphaned sisters clawing their way up the socioeconomic ladder, 1920's to 1950's. What if a Southern Jewish shopkeeper is wrongly convicted and lynched for a rape murder leaving two impoverished teen-aged daughters? Here, the girls are hounded out of town, flee to New York, and change their name from Roth to Adams. Beautiful, flighty Iris, swearing to get rich, becomes in very short order: a slightly trampy flapper, wife of a handsome-but-dissolute actor, an unsuccessful Hollywood star, and, finally, the wife of a depraved English peer, always hiding her Jewishness. Meanwhile, steady, virtuous Laura, vowing someday to clear her beloved papa's name, acquires poor-but-worthy lawyer Bernie (all Laura's husbands are noble and high-minded), her own law degree, and two children. Bernie dies, handily leaving enough money for Laura to move back to Georgia incognito and start what becomes a vast real-estate empire. So far lively if improbable goings-on, but the remaining 30-odd chapters sag dismally. Iris drinks too much and is mostly discontented, while her peer fails to interest her in kinky threesomes and flirts with the Nazis because he likes the decadent prewar Berlin nightlife. This makes Iris uncomfortable, so she rescues some Jewish orphans from Austria; the peer finally dies; his children cheat Iris, and her own son is turning out to be as unpleasant as is father--but at least Iris does get to send Laura lots of clothes from Paris! At the same time, Laura, becoming impossibly nobler and richer, has her own trials: her second husband is killed in the war; her children marry Gentiles; she falls in love with a married man; and her empire is constantly threatened by the ludicrously evil family who framed her father--though she will manage to finally clear his name. Cardboard characters in very ordinary rags-to-riches fare.

Pub Date: June 21st, 1988
Publisher: Arbor House/Morrow