In a cliche-ridden debut as substantial as candy floss and almost as achingly sweet, Lane, former singing star and ex-wife of bandleader Xavier Cugat, chronicles the meteoric career of gorgeous young chanteuse Julie Lauren. Raised in the Brooklyn of the 1930s and '40s by her stage-struck mother, Rose, and her warm-hearted father, Sam, Julie undergoes two severe bouts with illness in childhood before winning a role on Broadway at age 15 and embarking on a string of exhausting tours as the sexy lead singer for macho bandleader Paco Castell. She marries Paco within a year, then stoically endures his jealous rages and selfish attempts to block her successful acting career, which pairs her with the cream of European and Hollywood talent. Famous names--Cary Grant, Peter Ustinov, Vittorio De Sica--drop onto these pages with a thud, interspersed among dull rounds of domestic misery and trite descriptions of Julie's ever-ascending stardom. A slender subplot involving Hollywood agent Steve Burton, who is also trapped in an unhappy marriage, keeps pace. Finally ridding herself of Paco, Julie finds sweet love and abandon with the newly divorced Steve in an epilogue that seems more like a hastily tacked-on afterthought than a triumphal blending of parallel story lines. (Feb.)
If you like Hollywood gossip, you'll enjoy this lively first novel by a former wife of Xavier Cugat. Lane drops lots of juicy tidbits about the entertainment world of the 1940s and 1950s in a thinly veiled account of her own life. Julie Lauren, a naive Brooklyn teenager, realizes her dream of becoming famous when she meets and marries the legendary Latin bandleader Paco Castell. Paco quickly changes from father figure to sadistic, jealous tyrant during their ten-year marriage as he molds Julie into the bombshell band singer and dutiful wife he envisions. Julie's movie career escalates despite the deterioration of her marriage, but in seeking release from Paco, she must forsake her newfound wealth to find happiness. Recommended for public libraries.-- Heather Blenkinsopp, Mercy Coll. Lib., Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.
"But where is the plot?" is a better question for this first novel by the ex-wife of Xavier Cugat. Lane writes about the career of Julie Lehman, a young singer and actress who becomes the protege of sex-crazed Latin bandleader Paco Castell. By age 16 she's his wife, yet still the same sweet girl she remains throughout the novel. To call the characters in this book shallow would be granting them too much depth. Supposedly, the plot is "Will the abused, stupendously beautiful, enormously talented redhead ever find happiness if she does muster the courage to leave Paco?" Sure, in about 20 seconds. The novel is interesting only for its celebrity-bashing, Hollywood name-dropping, and the appearances of figures such as Gary Cooper and Aristotle Onassis (all of whom are overwhelmed by Lehman's personality and talent). A touch of modesty in the self-portrait and a little originality in the story would have helped, but such deficits haven't hindered the sale of similar Hollywood fictional fare.