THE LADIES OF BEVERLY HILLS by Sharleen Cooper Cohen


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Cohen moves from paperback (Regina's Song, The Day After Tomorrow) to hard-cover--but this ugly, nonsensical tale of adultery, feuds, and finance in Beverly Hills still carries more than a whiff of pulp-porno sleaziness. The main, colorless lady here is beautiful Phyllis Anhalt, daughter of nouveau-fiche Felix and alcoholic Audrey--and she blissfully weds handsome, colorless, past-haunted Peter McKintridge. . . even though nasty grandpa Belson McKintridge (an aged filmstar/tycoon) loathes Felix, and vice versa. In fact, unbeknownst to wimpy Phyllis, papa Felix is secretly plotting to destroy old Belson, who is pretty much self-destructing anyway: his fortune is gone; he's dying of heart disease; and, to get the $100 million needed to save his grand estate, he's trying an illegal commodities-squeeze on platinum--with Peter's reluctant help. Meanwhile, Phyllis' two best chums (an unappealing duo) are having their troubles: cute Vicky Feinstein loses her teaching job--thanks to Belson's anti-Semitism, thanks to the bitchiness of interior-decorating tycoonette Leslie Paxton--so she plans to write about them both in ""the spiciest best seller of the year""; and chum #3 Maria, wife of piggy lawyer Larry (Peter's partner), takes a job with devil-woman Leslie and has a hot affair with Felix (who turns out to be just as piggy as Larry). Also meanwhile, Leslie--Belson's long-ago sexual slave--has a sexually demeaning fling with an Arab sheik (even Harold Robbins might be grossed out), a sadist who has a yen to buy Belson's estate. And finally, after the platinum-seam predictably collapses, there's a last-minute flood of melodrama: Belson dies; Vicky discovers Belson's dirty secret (kiddie orgies), but finds love with a Jewish masseur/detective; Felix drives poor, shaky Peter to suicide; Maria and Larry patch it up; and Phyllis weeps and weeps, along with her friends. Lots of fun-trash ingredients, to be sure--but, with unpleasant/pallid characters, utterly implausible motivations, and ill-focused plotting, this is one of the tackier variations on the Rona Jaffe multi-heroine formula: for only the most undemanding junkola readership.

Pub Date: Feb. 23rd, 1982
Publisher: Delacorte