DEBUTANTES by June Flaum Singer


Email this review


From 1941 boarding-school days to a 1976 reunion at the Waldorf--the sudsy story of four Forties debs, told with tinny chic and hyper melodramatics instead of Rona Jaffe's classy warmth. There's Sara Gold, with a boozing mother (a pale WASP) and a social-climbing father (an assimilated Jew) who flaunts mistresses. There's Sara's nice cousin Marlena from South Carolina. There's Chrissy Marlowe, a poor-little-rich-girl-orphan à la Gloria V., who survives a tender lesbian affair with a teacher (who commits suicide). And there's Maeve O'Connor, whose background is a dilly: left alone with father Padraic (a famous, crazy poet who probably caused two family deaths and considerable madness), Maeve becomes pregnant by him at twelve and--thanks to loving Aunt Maggie--gives birth in secret to the soon-adopted babe. These are the four, then, who meet at Miss Chalmer's prestigious boarding school, becoming firm friends as they march forward into sprees, sex, and society . . . including a grand deb ball arranged by Sara. After school, of course, there are divergent paths: Chrissy marries a moocher from a California wine family and divorces; Marlena is ditched by a Boston fiance; Sara has a brief disastrous marriage to a writer; Maeve finally learns the whole ugly story of her father's evils from Aunt Maggie. And then comes the major complication: when the golden girls wind up in Paris, Sara is pulverized by passion for--Maeve's grotesque pa Padraic! Horrified, Maeve searches for her daughter/half-sister--who turns out to be a slightly retarded girl named Alice; Sara, wed to Padraic, is rescued from his Gaslight atrocities just in time; Alice must be kept hidden from the still-on-the-loose villain. But when Chrissy's latest floppo husband spills the beans about Alice's whereabouts, Padraic zeroes in--for a death-scene finale that features quotes from Shakespeare and Dickens. Finally, then, Padraic disposed of, the four are settled happily in 1976 with mates, kids (Marlena has opened a home for Viet orphans), and careers. Foolishly plotted and totally vacuous--but the formula is a reliable one; the Beautiful-People milieu is laid on with a sequined trowel (Jackie O.'s wedding, parties with Noel and Orson, they all sleep with Aly Khan); and heavy promotion could make this a likely contender for some of the Princess Daisy readership.

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 1981
Publisher: Evans