Chronicling the rise and fall of the Sakowitz family of Houston department store renown in this tale about life among the miserable rich, the former society editor of the Dallas Morning News offers few thrilling revelations. Despite Wolfe's efforts to keep the tale lively, the story of the making and breaking of the Sakowitz fortune and its cast of unappealing characters with their unpleasant marriages, divorces, connivances, venomous internecine vendettas and court fights, which may have enthralled Houston society in the late 1980s, do not translate into a page - turner here. Even gossip about the affair between Fergie, the Duchess of York, and Steve Wyatt, one of the players in the Sakowitz story, comes off lamely. Ditto the plentiful intrigues in the Texas oil industry, the detailed description of the clothes worn by Sakowitz heir, Lynn Wyatt, and the hint--unpursued--of a murder. Photos not seen by PW. (Aug.)
The tales of Edna Ferber's cattle barons told in her sprawling novel "Giant" and of television's feuding oil-rich Ewings of "Dallas" have nothing on the many real-life Texas family sagas. Wolfe, a former society editor for the Dallas "Morning News", is obviously fascinated by such stories. She has already portrayed one such bickering dynasty in "The Murchisons" (1989). Now she targets the Wyatt/Sakowitz empire, known for its upper-crust specialty stores, international oil deals, sexual escapades, and high-fashion glitz. Nearly a decade-long ugly and bitter court battle has kept the family in the headlines. Wolfe's true-life epic matches the fictional sizzle of Sidney Sheldon and Judith Krantz.