Picks and Pans Review: The Jewels of Tessa Kent

updated 11/16/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/16/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Judith Krantz

Judith Krantz knows where her brioche is buttered. So her latest novel packs plenty of the shameless name-dropping and over-the-top glitz that helped put her previous efforts (Scruples, Spring Collection) on bestseller lists. In Jewels, Princess Grace, Meryl Streep and David Lean are all woven into the plot, together with a veritable primer on pearls.

This time, Krantz also delivers something else: an affecting tale about the complicated bonds between mothers and daughters. Actress Tessa Kent is beautiful (this is Krantz, after all), a world-renowned star and the adored wife of an Australian multimillionaire. She's also keeping a desperate secret. When she was 14, she gave birth to a baby, Maggie, whom her mother raised as Tessa's sister. The deception allowed Tessa to achieve her dreams, but when the lie is revealed, on Maggie's 18th birthday, both women must confront the consequences.

Krantz never makes her characters very deep, but she hooks fans with masterly storytelling. And the unexpected mix of flat-out glamor and unvarnished emotion makes Jewels worth collecting. (Crown, $25.95)

Bottom Line: Semiprecious suds

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