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THE FIRST WIFE

Diana Diamond, Author
Diana Diamond, Author . St. Martin's $24.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-312-32147-5
Reviewed on: 04/26/2004
Release date: 06/01/2004
Mass Market Paperbound - 343 pages - 978-0-312-99333-7
Hardcover - 528 pages - 978-0-7862-6770-5
Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4299-0370-7
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Pseudonymous Diamond's (The Good Sister, etc.) updated version of Daphne du Maurier's classic Rebecca offers a savvy heroine (divorced business reporter Jane Warren), a widowed media mogul (globe-trotting power broker William Andrews) and a famous socialite first wife brutally murdered eight years before in her posh Adirondack lodge. Like the original, this romantic thriller begins with the whirlwind courtship of a down-to-earth younger woman by a wealthy older man, as Andrews whisks Jane off to Paris while she tries to interview him for a profile she's writing. Diamond enlivens the familiar story line with modern touches: instead of a loafing cousin, she introduces Jane's hapless playwright ex; instead of an English country estate, she features a New Jersey horse farm, a Manhattan penthouse apartment and, of course, the Adirondack lodge. She also adds two children from Andrews's previous marriage. Such twists on the 1938 original add to the reader's delight: how will the modern heroine handle the old-fashioned mystery? How will the old-fashioned hero handle the modern heroine? And who is the villainous Mrs. Danvers, and what will she do next? Even when presenting details about sex, business and a catered wedding that would make du Maurier blush, Diamond never forgets that the story's appeal lies in the heroine's frequently failed attempts to understand the hold the first wife keeps over a husband who otherwise looks too good to be true. Without pretense and with energy to spare, Diamond builds excitement through a series of inevitable yet still somehow surprising scenes, making her fresh take on an old classic not great literature but very good entertainment. Agent, Neeti Madan at Sterling Lord Literistic . (June)

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