Plume, 2009 (2009)
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Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto
ouise Bagshawe's latest novel,
, is a fluffy epic full of power, greed, and the threat of an all-out catfight. When Sally Lassiter (daughter of a Texas oil tycoon), Jane Morgan (daughter of an English ambassador), and Helen Yanna (daughter of a Jordanian merchant) become friends at an exclusive Los Angeles girls' school, they cannot forsee what the future holds for them, both together and separately.
ife is great for the three girls right up until Sally's Sweet Sixteen party. The next day, everything falls apart. First, Jane's father commits suicide, leaving her a penniless orphan. Next, Helen's parents fly her off to Cairo for an arranged marriage. Finally, Sally's father's company is found cooking the books, sending him into a deadly heart attack, and leaving Sally to support her downward-spiraling mother.
he girls lose touch as each tries to rebuild her life – which they all do rather successfully. Four years later, they finally meet again. Sally is now an up-and-coming fashion designer, Jane has just left a six-figure job as a Human Resources VP for a major retailer, and Helen (now Haya) is the pregnant widow of a successful carpet seller. Together, they decide to form their own company,
, an upscale department store. It grows beyond their wildest dreams, and as the womens' lives begin to move in different directions, the fate of
and their friendships hang in the balance.
could have been an indulgent page-turner, but somehow it falls flat. It reads more like an uncorrected proof than a finished copy, with punctuation errors and awkward phrasing throughout, and more than a few chronological issues that were glossed over. Also, the characters were not quite up to snuff. I only really connected with Haya, and in order for the plot to work out, the reader has to be able to connect with all three.
hough Jane's character is easy to hate, but also to feel for, Sally seemed to really miss the mark. Sally is supposed to be an American sweetheart, a star, the girl everyone loves. While I could easily feel sympathy for kind-hearted Haya and even tough-as-nails Jane, Sally left me cold. Even through her down times, some element of emphathy was missing. I usually find myself able to connect on some level with all characters. Since Sally's story made up one-third of the book, it brought the whole novel down. However this may just have been me - if you enjoy this sort of novel, form your own judgment of
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