THE ELEVENTH YEAR by Monique Raphel High


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Glossy floss set in Paris' Roaring Twenties, with a muted roar of sad meows and some tail-swishing snarls, as three women--two Americans and an exotic Russian adventuress--tumble through considerable misery with their men. Two of the heroines start out in the USA: Jamie Stewart, from humble Cincinnati beginnings, wins a scholarship to Vassar in 1915--and her roomie is wealthy Lesley Richardson from Manhattan; so Jamie sees Lesley through the abortion-mill aftermath of a disastrous love affair in England with Byronic Justin Reeve. And meanwhile, worlds away, the Princess Elena Egorova (""feral and wild, with passions that swept over her like hot winds over the Russian steppes"") gives up on her defeated exiled parents, sweeps out of Siberia, has a lesbian experience, and then (when her friends are killed in an auto accident) inherits enough money to escape to Singapore--where she will let affairs touch the body but not the soul. Eventually, of course, Lesley, Jamie, and Elena meet in Paris--where the brothers de Varennes, Alexandre and Paul, will enter their lives. Noble Alexandre, barely tolerated by his naughty Belle Epoque mother Charlotte, marries love-battered Lesley, who wants security but no children--ever. Paul, an enchanting rotter who just might be the offspring of the Prince of Wales, becomes Jamie's lover. But then Elena simmers into Paul's vision, and he's troika-ed off to penultimate passion. . . while pregnant Jamie, who's becoming a Great American Novelist, is determined to have the child nonetheless. Meanwhile, however, Lesley confides in Elena, who uses the information for some complex blackmail and a kidnapping, in league with--guess who?--old Justin (who's been running an art forgery business these many years). Still, all will finally come out neatly: Elena lands on her feet, footsy-ing with an elderly art dealer; the strained marriage of Alexandre and Lesley shows promise; and Jamie is a Famous Author. The lit'ry lights of Paris of the time show up here and there--Gertrude and Alice, Scott and Zelda, etc. But their bland chatter hardly adds much to this agreeable formula performance by the author of The Four Winds of Heaven and Encore: pillow romance with sateen sentiments.

Pub Date: Feb. 16th, 1982
Publisher: Delacorte