MADE IN HEAVEN by Tracy Hotchner


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The happily privileged girlhood, the strained adolescence, and the cranky marriage years of young Blake Marsham--as recalled in uneven chapters which alternate between first-person reminiscence (distant past) and third-person narration (more recent events). ""It was hard to grow up inside a fairy tale, a constantly caressing life. Sometimes Cass and I dressed up as poor people. . . ."" Thus, much-loved recalls her transatlantic childhood with less-loved sister Cassie, insouciant mother Isabel, and art-impresario father ""Marsh"": horses and beloved pets; shopping through Europe; the slow disintegration of her parents' marriage (which Isabel valiantly denied); learning fishing and bull-fighting from Marsh. But, while some of this lavish-lifestyle material is mildly engaging, syrupy with announcements of nostalgic regret, only Blake's memories of gallant Isabel's fatal illness are involving--though even here the banality of the writing is a problem. (Cancer ""can be a devilish disease""; Mother ""was a woman who had never complained a day in her life""). And the chapters which record Blake's antsy marriage to ambitious newspaper publisher Michael (he of the ""chiseled blond face"") remain unaffectingly whiny--even when Blake, staying masochistically married because of Mother's ""puritan work ethic,"" goes briefly catatonic. (Again, the prose doesn't hetp: ""Blake wished that she and Michael could make silk purses from the debris of their fights, rather than a pile of festering pigs' ears."") Finally, divorced and free--""it feels lovely to fuck again!""--Blake is supportive to sister Cassie during a cancer scare . . . and has some insta-therapy over a fudge sundae: ""'You mean holding onto Michael was a way of holding onto Mama, to the lies she taught me?' The excitement of discovery, pieces of the puzzle failing into place."" Even as non-fiction, this story wouldn't have a fraction of the power of Brooke Hayward's Haywire. And what little drama there is here is dissipated by the flashback-and-forward, episodic, narrator shifts (which do, admittedly, help to reduce tedium). Still, though many will be put off by the repetitious, often maudlin self-dramatization, there may be some low-level celebrity curiosity (Hotchner's ""Acknowledgements"" are a name-dropping festival) as well as the traditional appeal of vicarious glamour and Rich Folks' Miseries.

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 1981
Publisher: Morrow