Helpful Score: 1
The author of the bestselling Crowned Heads and The Other depicts a tarnished Hollywood dream in these interrelated novellas chronicling the overlapping lives of five glamorous movie stars, four of whom are bound together by their love for the bedhopping agent who pushed them to the top. The narrator is Charlie Caine, an actor turned writer who ticks off the blur of unhappy events that befall these women as their careers soar and stall. There's Babe, a blowsy, cut-rate Mae West; Belinda, whose bad seed daughter ruins more than one life; fragile April, who crumbles into madness under the weight of constant tragedy; Maude, the gracious doyenne of American film whose happy marriage may have been an illusion; and the supremely bitchy Claire, a scrabbling, grasping survivor. Famous names and recognizable situations are sprinkled throughout for flavor, but only a few surprising twists hint at Tryon's storytelling prowess. Otherwise, these tales of alcoholism, faithless men and broken women seem unremittingly grim and tedious. Literary Guild main selection.