THE RICH AND THE MIGHTY by Vera Cowie

THE RICH AND THE MIGHTY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The rank and the mindless: a dreadfully bloated (500+ pages) soap-melodrama from Britain--all about the crude inheritance squabbles and the murky family secrets that arise when nasty billionaire Richard Tempest dies on his personal island in the Bahamas. Everyone in the decadent Tempest clan quickly gathers, naturally, for the reading of the will: Richard's delicate, unstable sister Helen, who's utterly obsessed with the upkeep of the family's island-mansion; his mistress Mattie, super opera diva; his jet-set stepdaughter Margery, a much-married ""sex addict"" and the ""World's Best Dressed Woman""; stepson Dan, London blackmailer and orgy-master; alcoholic widower-stepson David, with estranged twelve-year-old daughter Nieves; plus family lawyer Hervey (devoted to Helen) and Richard's fat Gal Friday, Cass van Dooren, who virtually runs the huge Tempest conglomerate. Which of them will get the biggest share of Richard's fortune? None of them--because Richard has left Everything to his secret illegitimate daughter, top fashion-model Elizabeth Sheridan! Soon, then, Amazon-gorgeous Elizabeth (who was raised in an orphanage) comes to the island--and surprises everyone with her incredibly cool, commanding, matter-of-fact reaction to sudden billionairedom: she's impervious to intimidation, manipulation, or seduction by the assorted Tempests. But Elizabeth's chilly, sexless exterior immediately crumbles when film-director Dev Loughlin, a Tempest family-friend, arrives on the scene--with his ""potent combination of Spanish macho and Irish charm. . . the power, pure and absolute, of a man who was one hundred per cent male."" Yes, ice-maiden Elizabeth is promptly ""grinding, twisting, undulating against him,"" realizing for the first time that she has been repressing her emotions since childhood! And eventually, with help from Dev Elizabeth is recalling buried memories from pre-orphanage life (on a trip back to England)--thus uncovering the true secret (implausible) of Elizabeth's parentage. . . while other Tempest family-members get instant cures or instant justice. (Cocaine-snorting nymphomaniac Margery dies mid-orgy.) Through its first half, this tacky assemblage occasionally flares with trashy energy--chiefly in the bitchy family repartee. Later on, however, even that marginal level of entertainment fades--as the dialogue becomes merely shrill or goopy, as Elizabeth (responding to Dev's ""loin-caressing voice"") becomes the awakened-heroine of any verbose, sleazy pulp-romance.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1985
Publisher: Doubleday