THE ONLY SIN by Julie Ellis


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Ellis (The Hampton Women, Maison Jennie, and Rich Is Best) offers up a new dynastic family saga, this one set in Marienbad, Sydney, Paris, and New York, between 1903-1968, and featuring a female cosmetics magnate and her descendants. Lilli Landau grows up in Marienbad, watering hole of the rich and famous, the illegitimate daughter of a Jewish scullery maid and a titled Brit. At 16, she marries dashing Jacques Laval, who sweeps her off to Australia; and there, when Jacques can't make a living, Lilli uses an old family formula to make beauty creams that she sells to the ladies of Sydney. She has one child and a flourishing business when Jacques leaves her for Paris, and Lilli soon follows, setting up another successful salon there. She and Jacques reunite, have another child, divorce, and each marries another; Lilli, Prince Mischa, who turns out to be gay. She divorces him, moves to New York, and in her 40's, marries ad-agency heavy, Alex Kahan. They have two more kids. Lilli's various children have problems, marry, have more kids, and Lilli continues to run the empire until an evil conglomerate tries to buy up control, and all Lilli's progeny must unite to buy back the stocks--it's costly, but the kids succeed and return control to a by-now 80-ish Lilli, who proclaims ""We have a dynasty!"" as the book ends. Entertaining but thinly and often embarrassingly, clumsily handled; all in all, not a superlative family saga but rather a merely adequate one.

Pub Date: March 27th, 1986
Publisher: Arbor House