Fleur De Leigh's Life of Crime: A Novel
AbeBooks Mitglied seit 1996
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AbeBooks Mitglied seit 1996
Titel: Fleur De Leigh's Life of Crime: A Novel
Verlag: Simon & Schuster
Zustand des Schutzumschlags: Dust Jacket Included
Auflage: 1st Edition
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Tucked away in her parents' lavish Beverly Hills mansion, young Fleur de Leigh has all the benefits of a privileged upbringing. Hers is a world marked by glamour and abundance, where the air is thick with showbiz glitz and couches sink under big screen stars. Fleur's mother, a flamboyant, ambitious B-movie actress and eponymous star of "The Charmian Leigh Radio Mystery Half-Hour," and her aloof father, currently reduced to producing TV game shows, casually entrust their daughter to a procession of nannies. Among them are Bettina, who accessorizes her uniform with high heels; Clover, an orphan determined on an acting career; and the monstrous Miss Hoate, whose brief tenure ends when she is escorted from the job in a straitjacket. From the quirky to the certifiably insane, these women all play a role in shaping Fleur, touching her heart, and ours, in unique and unpredictable ways. Diane Leslie won the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction for "A Life of Crime," the story that forms the novel's first chapter. It was subsequently read by actress Jill Eikenberry at L.A.'s Getty Museum and broadcast nationwide on NPR's "Selected Shorts." By turns heartrending and uplifting, comic and elegiac, "Fleur de Leigh's Life of Crime" heralds the debut of an extraordinarily talented novelist.Review:
This gently comic first novel, set in Beverly Hills during the late 1950s, is narrated by a 10-year-old. Convincing depictions of a small child's mental state are one of the hardest tasks an adult fiction writer can pull off, and Diane Leslie's accomplished portrait of Fleur de Leigh is one of the better efforts in '90s fiction. While this girl has her occasional moments of adult retrospection, it bears noting that her showbiz parents have been determined to raise her as if she were a miniature adult--which, in their case, means ignoring her for long stretches of time but offering occasional insincere displays of affection. Her mother, the star of the Charmian Leigh Radio Mystery Half-Hour, aspires to a career in film or television; she even goes so far as to book a regular appointment with her shrink, not for the benefits of psychoanalysis but because "David O. Selznick had the appointment before hers. He was an important connection and this was Charmian's way to connect." Her father, meanwhile, is off producing game shows, and brings her along to one broadcast--not to show her what he does for a living but so she can help fill the studio audience. Left to fend for herself, with nominal assistance from the string of nannies that passes through the house, Fleur winds up doing things like collecting seashells or reading with a flashlight under the covers only "because I liked pretending I was a normal American child."
Fleur de Leigh's Life of Crime covers a two-and-a-half year period, and it would be very easy for Fleur herself to dominate the proceedings. But Leslie has created a rich cast of supporting characters, each of whom is given just enough space to establish a distinctive personality yet still not distract our attention from the real star of the show. From the nanny who performs her duties in high heels and gold-flecked lipstick to the loyal gardener to the aging film legend, they all contribute to Fleur's developing awareness of her inner strength, helping her to persevere in the face of her parents' casual disregard. Fleur de Leigh's Life of Crime marks a very promising beginning for a novelist in the vein of Dawn Powell and James Wilcox. --Ron Hogan
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