Picks and Pans Review: Margot

updated 03/18/1985 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/18/1985 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Julian Grenfell

This could have been just another romance novel set in Europe during World War II. But Grenfell writes with intelligence, humor and a sense of history. Furthermore, as a British diplomat for 10 years and a member of an influential family, he is able to introduce the likes of De Gaulle, Churchill and Joseph Kennedy into his novel and make their fictional presence credible. His heroine, Margot Moore, an American diplomat's daughter living in London, "was praying each night that she would dream of being seduced." When war is declared she stays on, marries a Brit who is quickly sent off to the front, and then falls for a French intelligence officer. Using her father's connections, Moore begins collecting information for the Gaullists. Meanwhile, husband Charles returns from a POW camp. She has his baby. Her French lover, Edmond, is involved in a wartime scandal involving murder. Through it all Margot manages to appear devastatingly attractive. Dressed by Dior, she dances through bombings and drowns personal tragedy in torrid affairs. Grenfell's portrayals of apparently prim, yet sexually insatiable American women, get tedious. His accounts of behind-the-scenes wartime diplomacy ring truer, giving this first novel a mix of sensibility and frivolity. Reading it is like sipping sherry while sitting through a history lesson. (Freundlich, $16.95)

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