October 1, 1989
In this modern-day melodrama of paradise lost, Reuben Tarz and Daniel Bishop are rescued from a French hospital at the close of WW I to share a luxurious chateau with Mickey, a sexy French marchioness. Their tranquil retreat is shaken up by the arrival of 16-year-old Bebe Rosen, daughter of an American movie mogul. Michaels creates a test of love for Reuben, Mickey and Bebe that each inevitably fails. The rest of the novel charts their punishment. Aside from Daniel and Reuben's friendship born of the adversities of war, and Mickey's maternal devotion to the illegitimate son born of Reuben's rape of Bebe, no love endures, and any apparent understanding between the sexes is an illusion destined to be violently shattered. Michaels's novels (the Texas trilogy) always evince a strong sense of morality, but here this has turned sour and vindictive. The Hollywood setting in which Bebe and Reuben work out their fates is a hollow, unconvincing cliche--as though Michaels can barely stand to ponder the ugly, despair-sodden world she depicts.