Her Only Sin

Benjamin Stein, Author St. Martin's Press $16.95 (360p) ISBN 978-0-312-36916-3
Even when she deliberately hid behind a mousy exterior, Susan-Marie Warmack showed seeds of genius and an inner beauty. Her childhood friend, Benjy, offers her a job in the Nixon White House analyzing the public mood through TV and movie trends. From there, it's just a small jump to Republic Studios in Hollywood, where Susan-Marie quickly finds a benefactor, a corner office, and an increasing number of admirers. She marries much-lauded director Paul Belzberg, a weak, petulant man who undercuts his new wife by belittling her talent and mocking her ideas. But Susan-Marie ignores him, turning out box-office successes that rapidly outstrip Paul's dwindling reputation. Meantime, Benjy has come to Hollywood on his friend's coattails, and remains there as a writer, chronicling the decline of her marriage. With an aplomb Louis B. Mayer would envy, Susan-Marie continues to wrap up deals while enmeshed in a proxy battle and divorce with Paul, even as a raging fire and an armed lunatic converge on her Malibu home. Billed as a roman a clef, the novel is at its best when Stein (Dreemz and 'Ludes recounts seamy tales of Hollywood with lip-smacking relish. The book is generally unengaging otherwise, reaching for high drama but settling for pure camp instead. 35,000 first printing; $35,000 ad/promo. March 4
Reviewed on: 01/01/1985
Release date: 01/01/1985
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