Passion Flowers

David Ritz, Author
David Ritz, Author Dutton Books $21.95 (303p) ISBN 978-1-55611-283-6
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-312-95180-1
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Three generations of talented, husbandless, fatherless, independent African American women grapple for fame and fortune in this sweeping tale of show-biz ambition and family rivalry. Spanning five decades, and taking place in settings that range from the great cities of Europe to New York and Hollywood to Muscle Shoals, Ala., Ritz's gripping but uneven narrative chronicles the struggles of the Faith Women, each of whom is bent on attaining stardom. The tale begins with Southern orphan Georgia Faith as she arrives in Hollywood in 1945. Harnessing her drive, glamour and uncanny power over men, Georgia repeatedly maneuvers herself to the brink of acting fame, but the movie industry's unjust treatment of blacks is one reason why ``the big break'' always eludes her. While she loves her daughter, Chanel, Georgia also competes with her, trying to control and limit her accomplishments. But Chanel discovers her powerful singing voice and finds independence in a gospel and blues music career. Chanel's daughter, Marisa, becomes the most famous of the three, parlaying modeling success into pop music stardom, as mother and grandmother battle for control. Though these three larger-than-life women hold the reader's interest, much of the dialogue is unconvincing, incredible coincidences weaken the plot and Ritz's formulaic psychology robs the characters of depth. Still, there is drama in the ebb and flow of the Faiths' success, and Ritz ( Family Blood ) writes knowingly about the entertainment industry and its treatment of black performers. (Nov.)
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