Bestselling novelist Thomas ( Bad Girls, Good Women ) sets this inconsistent, only partly engaging tale of family love and betrayal against a familiar historic backdrop spanning the two world wars. Born on the same day to mothers who are twins, cousins Clio Hirsh and Lady Grace Stratton look enough alike to be taken for twins themselves. But it's the mesmerizing Grace who holds the Hirsh boys, Jake and Julius, in thrall, leaving quieter Clio awash in envy. At 17, Grace steals Clio's first suitor for a lark. Bitter words ebb and flow between the two as Grace goes on to conceive an illegitimate child, marry a stolid stockbroker, then break into politics, while Clio pursues the literary life in the bohemian haunts of London, Berlin and Paris, where she bears the child of a German Jew in the shadow of the Holocaust. Meantime, encouraged by Grace's distasteful politics, Clio's youngest sister, Alice, flirts with Nazism, touching off a series of tragedies. Although Thomas packs her pages with intriguing peripheral characters and side plots, she never delivers much in the way of emotion. The novel's flimsy narrative device--an unlikable grandniece who pries all these family secrets from Clio--hides a neat one-two punch until the end. BOMC main selection. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/1992 Release date: 09/01/1992 Genre: Fiction
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