cover image Goldberg Variations

Goldberg Variations

Susan Isaacs. Scribner, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4516-0591-4

Imperious Gloria Garrison, spurned by her best friend and heir to a multimillion-dollar beauty makeover business, summons the three grandchildren she barely knows to the Santa Fe, N.Mex., headquarters of Glory Inc. to pick her successor among them. But neither feisty Legal Aid lawyer Raquel—daughter of Gloria’s favorite son and his Puerto Rican social worker wife, nor Raquel’s cousins—irresistible PR man Matt and big sister Daisy, a Paramount Studios mogul—want anything to do with their mean grandma’s enterprise. The King Lear implications are not lost on the crusty 79-year-old CEO, who broods that Lear’s “two bad daughters, at least, want the kingdom,” calling her own unruly progeny “my thankless flesh and blood.” Prolific veteran Isaacs (Any Place I Hang My Hat) creates a deliciously wicked tale of family dysfunction—as interpreted in alternating chapters by the salty Gloria and her angry grandkids as they endure a long weekend of bitter recriminations that turns abruptly civil after a tour of Glory Inc. and a good makeover. Despite the sluggish pace and improbable reconciliation, time spent with this cheeky and unruly crew is anything but wasted. Agent: Richard Pine, Inkwell Management. (Oct.)