Elinor, a legendary novelist, is on her deathbed and must decide to whom she will leave her fortune. Which, if any, of her three granddaughters will inherit? Beautiful Annabel, Miranda, the brilliant businesswoman, or Clare, the film producer’s wife with a social conscience?
As she did in Lace and Savages , Conran here spins a dramatic story tracing the lives of several women, here the members of the O'Dare family. Serving as a nurse in WW I, Elinor Dove meets and marries charming Billy O'Dare, whose continuing cruelty both shames and arouses her. Borrowing from the life of Colette, Conran gives manipulative, feckless Billy the inspiration of locking Elinor in a room to force her to write a novel. To no reader's surprise, Elinor becomes wildly successful, rich and famous. She also raises three gorgeous granddaughters on whom she bestows all the material advantages she once lacked. After Billy's drunken death, she passes control of her money to family friend Adam Grant. When Elinor falls ill, family rifts develop, marriages crumble, businesses and fortunes are undermined--and Adam is pulling the strings, since Elinor has neglected to instill in her granddaughters faith in their ability to take care of themselves. Though this rags-to-riches tale, set in London, Los Angeles, New York and the south of France, has the requisite touches of glamour and glitz, it is never truly compelling. Moreover, readers may be distanced by the female characters' overwhelming passivity. 200,000 first printing; first serial to Cosmopolitan; author tour.