cover image Curtain


Michael Korda. Summit Books, $19.45 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-68684-0

Korda's latest sweeping melodrama (after Queenie ) is set in London theaters and Hollywood studios of the 1940s. The larger-than-life romantic leads in this compulsively readable roman a clef , Shakespearean actor Robert Vane and Oscar-winning beauty Felicia Lisle, are cloned from real-life stars Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. The supporting cast, notably Hollywood comic Randy Brooks; crude, magnetic impresario Marty Quick; British theater critic Guillam Pentecost; and Vane's greatest rivals on the London stage, actors Toby Eden and Philip Chagrin, are drawn as directly from other identifiable luminaries of the times. After performing together in Hamlet , Robbie and Lisha abandon their spouses (and Lisha's daughter) to live together in an extravaganza of passion and style, enduring a financially disastrous American tour of Romeo and Juliet , Lisha's breakdowns and possessiveness, Robbie's stint in the RAF and his increasing commitment to the theater. Their marriage 10 years later is followed by Robbie's knighthood, an affair and a murder--the plot spiced with enough sex (homo-, hetero-, incest and a little S-M) to provide an action-filled if ok predictable plot. Korda knows the milieu and keeps the pages turning. Literary Guild selection. (Feb.)