cover image Pride and Avarice

Pride and Avarice

Nicholas Coleridge, Author . St. Martin's/Dunne $25.99 (490p)

Coleridge's latest (after Godchildren ) is a lengthy, elaborate skewering of contemporary Britain's wealthy movers and shakers that, while funny and smartly conceived, could stand to lose a good 150 pages. Miles Straker is handsome, wealthy and enormously connected as chairman and CEO of his own public relations firm. When on-the-rise grocery chain owner Ross Clegg secures a plot of land abutting Miles's country seat, Chawbury Manor, and erects a monstrosity of a home, the gauntlet is thrown. While Ross's company grows by leaps and bounds and begins to challenge Miles's top client's market share, the Clegg family worms its way into the Chawbury social scene. Such threats to the upper-crust status quo are not taken lightly, and all-out Straker-Clegg family entanglement ensues. The novel bears all the trappings of a well-crafted social satire—delightfully loathsome characters, romantic intrigue of the most sordid kind, a keen eye for the ever-important details of appearance—but as the narrative progresses, the ever-increasing chains of coincidences and shifts of allegiance begin to feel like a piling-on. Sometimes less is more. (Feb.)