LACE by Shirley Conran
Kirkus Star


Email this review


Conran (Superwoman) gets her first novel off to a juicy start: film-superstar Lili, 28, lures four 45-ish, successful women to her Pierre Hotel suite and says, ""All right. . . which one of you bitches is my mother?"" After that, however, as the action flashes back to 1948 and starts trudging through the decades of career/sex complications, things become largely routine (a little Rona Jaffe, a lot of Judith Krantz), with some extra interest in the assorted biz details (fashion, wine, hotels) but minimal appeal in the quintet of leading ladies. Back in '48, three girls (two English, one French) become friends at a Swiss finishing school: nouveau-riche Kate; upper-class Pagan; and Maxine, a plumply plain mademoiselle who is soon transformed via surgery and diet. Plus: all three get chummy with Judy Jordan from America, a poor kid who's working as a waitress to put herself through a Swiss foreign-languages program. Loss of virginity, of course, is the main concern for the first 100 pages or so--with Aly Khanish Prince Abdullah as the primary seducer. Then, after one of them has given secret birth (the ho-hum mystery is maintained till the end), it's onward to ups and downs in work and wedlock: Judy dabbles in Paris fashion, later becomes America's top PR woman (helping Kate to score in journalism) but doesn't find Love for years, not till Griffin Lowe (married) of Orbit Publishing enters her life; Maxine goes into interior decoration, weds vineyard heir Charles (who's into public sex), and turns his chateau into a famed hotel; Kate loves banker Robert, but he breaks their engagement to marry Pagan instead (better connections)--so Kate briefly weds transvestite Toby and becomes a writer. . . while Pagan finds marital misery with piggy Robert (orgasm trouble), drinks a lot, and ends up happily married to (and raising funds for) a cancer researcher. And, throughout, there are vignettes from the shabby life of mystery-baby Lili: evil foster-parents, flight from Hungary in '56, teenage porno-photos and abortion; rise from X-rated film-queen to superstar; breakdowns; sex with all and sundry, including Maxine's teenage son (who might be her brother!) and Abdullah (who might be her father!); and the search for the real mother who abandoned her. Will you care which one is Lili's mum? Not likely. And the overlapping life stories have little warmth or momentum. But there's graphic sex galore (only a few kinkies), a flurry of international glamour-backgrounds (though without the class of J. J. Buck's The Only Place to Be, p. 504), and enough basic readability (with massive PR ahead) to snare a big share of the glitter-woman audience.

Pub Date: Aug. 16th, 1982
ISBN: 1416535489
Publisher: Simon & Schuster