(Click here for information on the 2016 edition of Molly’s Imaginary Summer Book Club Featuring Classics of Women’s Literature. As all of the four selected titles have filmed adaptations, we will be looking at the movie versions as we go along. This month, the June selection, Shirley Conran’s Lace.)
You may have noticed that this review is about two and a half weeks late. The reason is because that is how much longer than anticipated it took me to slog through Conran’s epic bestseller, a scandalous potboiler blown up to Clavellian (Michner-like? Ferberesque?) proportions, taking in Swiss boarding schools, secret teenage pregnancies, blackmail, S&M, purloined finacés, Arab sheiks, alcoholism, late-life lesbianism, a fashion heist, more blackmail, the Soviet occupation of Hungary, an illegal abortion, marital rape, the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War, cocaine, frigidity, swinging London, science-fiction cancer research, porno-chic, dead parents, a daring escape involving acrobatics from behind the Iron Curtain, near-incest, actual incest, decapitation, and a cross-dressing husband.
And the amazing part is that Conran manages to make all of this so deadly boring.
It all starts out promisingly enough, as four high-powered women, the richest, the most famous, the top of their respective professions, are summoned to the Pierre hotel at the behest of international superstar Lili, an actress and sex symbol who is treated as the second coming of Greta Garbo (and comes off more like Blue Lagoon-era Brooke Shields), who delivers the immortal line to assembled group:
“All right,” she said, “which one of you bitches is my mother?”
Publicist Judy Jordan, champagne vintner and countess Maxine de Chazalle, war correspondent Kate Ryan, and socialite Pagan (real name: Jennifer) Trelawney then flash back to their Swiss boarding school days (and most of the rest of the last half of the 20th century, after a fashion). Continue reading