Picks and Pans Review: Birthright
by Joseph Amiel
For those addicts of big novels with vulgar energy—Shirley Conran's Lace, say—here is another cut from similar cloth. The heroine is your standard, pop-novel beautiful bitch with flaming red hair and sapphire-blue eyes. She is adopted by a wealthy banking family, the Kronengolds (the author may have borrowed a few details of their lives from the Rothschilds). The opening setting is London after World War II, and the story continues up to the present. Deborah de Kronengold grows up adored by her mother and grandfather and hated by her father, who is into S&M and isn't a nice man at all. When he cheats her out of everything, she says, "Someday I will be successful on a scale that is vast even by Kronengold standards. And when I am, I swear by whatever is eternal that I shall crush you beneath my heel!" Who says they don't write 'em like that anymore? Poor Deborah then is further mistreated by fate, relatives and rotten lovers, but she saves up the money she makes as a waitress in New York and (this is fiction, remember) ultimately creates the greatest financial empire in the world. Amiel, the author of Hawks, hasn't left out a thing: There's the old find-the-lost-parents gambit, a secret Nazi villain, charming scoundrels named Rob and Bash and Matt, a Jewish cousin who becomes a Catholic monk and an assortment of familiar biggies (Winston Churchill, the Shah of Iran, President Ford). Deborah winds up pregnant, powerful and determined that no man ever will have any say whatsoever in how she lives her life. The book has, needless to say, already been sold for a TV miniseries. (Atheneum, $17.95)
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