cover image Champagne


Nicola Thorne. HarperPrism, $4.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-100023-2

A veteran British novelist with over a dozen books to her credit, Thorne tells a stylish tale of wheeling and dealing in the French champagne industry. When one of the leading families in the business discovers that its corporate empire has been willed to Sandra O'Neill, a 26-year-old Harvard MBA and the daughter of the patriarch's longtime mistress, the machinations to force the unwanted adoptive sister out of the family holdings are worthy of the Borgias. Thorne handles the world of high finance with equal aplomb, and skillfully blends in facts about champagne production as part of a bravura subplot--a scheme to turn Sandra's ignorance of the vintner's art into a financial disaster justifying her dismissal. The book's final third is marred by a Johnny-come-lately love interest of Sandra's--a scarcely credible physician/humanitarian. The weak ending turns on the revelation of a secret that any astute reader would have fathomed hundreds of pages earlier. (Jan.)