cover image The Women in His Life

The Women in His Life

Barbara Taylor Bradford / Author Random House (NY) $5.99 (522p

For the first time using a man as her protagonist, Bradford gives us a cliched love story nearly indistinguishable from her previous ( A Woman of Substance ) hefty novels. Tycoon Maximilian West, workaholic founder of a multinational financial empire, is endowed with ``personal magnetism,'' ``fatal charm,'' ``charisma'' and ``presence'' but is emotionally obtuse with the women who adore him. Born Maxim Wertheim in Berlin, he is brought to London in 1939 by his loving nursemaid; his parents die in concentration camps. Forging a brilliant business career, he marries a glamorous Frenchwoman, eventually losing her to the demands of his career; two more wives and assorted mistresses fail to bring him happiness. In one of the clunkier epiphanies in commercial novels, he finally understands the reason for his increasing anomie, and, not to our surprise, wins the woman of his heart. Bradford is more adept at describing opulent furniture, clothing and food, and in providing capsule tours of posh neighborhoods in London, New York, Berlin, Paris, Venice and Morocco than she is in delineating the personalities of her characters, whose insights about themselves and others are so superficial as to verge on the ludicrous. But her legions of readers undoubtedly will be satisfied by the romantic fortunes of the cultured, wealthy and powerful people whose lives she evokes with lavish sentiment. BOMC selection. (Aug.)