Picks and Pans Review: Azur Like It

updated 04/05/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/05/2004 01:00AM

By Wendy Holden
NOVEL

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Holden's fizzy tale, set mostly on the French Riviera, is like an all-night bender: It has giggles, hookups, mischief, a couple of burps and some very embarrassing moments. And when it's over, there's no guilt for the pleasure, nor much memory of it.

This Cristal-lite story stars Kate Clegg, an aspiring trash novelist who slogs away at a dutiful newspaper in Slackmucklethwaite, England, but dreams of the Cote d'Azur. She follows a smarmy lover there but is abandoned during the Cannes Film Festival and must find a job (or three). In her spare time, the little trouper gets swept up in an international real estate scam, a mystery involving a skull-faced menace and a romance with a French artist, among other mini escapades. The mad jumble of story lines occasionally becomes preposterous and confusing (again, why is Kate being held hostage by a banana-wielding decorator?). But Holden glosses over the gaps with quick-paced scenes. No prizes will be awarded to those who guess that in the finale, Kate's champagne wishes will finally come true.

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