Format: Paperback, 512pp
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Sparkles is the kind of thing you read when you should be reading classics. It's the mediocre TV you watch when you tell your friends you were improving your mind by watching documentaries. It's an escape from your own troubles into the realm of retail.
When the head of the Massot family disappears into the night he leaves his family wondering what happened. Pierre was the head of one of the great jewelry companies in Paris, wheeling and dealing, a sharp business man with a good eye he had built an empire. He left behind his timid English wife, a son that grows up to be a rather spoiled young man, his mother who loves to terrorize his wife, and a handful of mistresses. All of these characters are left wondering what happened and why.
It's hard to like some of them. I realize that might have been the point, but I detested Pierre Massot in particular. He has several mistresses, not all of whom know about the rest, and a young, meek wife waiting in the wings, whom all of the before-mentioned mistresses hate. Tom, Pierre's son, is much like his father. When we are first introduced to him, Tom's wondering if maybe he keeps too many women but decides that what they don't know won't hurt them. He's also furious with his mother for declaring his father dead, even though Pierre's been gone for seven years.
Hugh Montfort is working for a rival jewelry house and just happens to be good looking as well as smart. He's the complete package, but has put aside his personal life in favor of his professional. Hugh is famous for pouring his entire being into his work and the bigger and tougher the project, the more he enjoys it. But when he meets Sophie, his rival in the jewelry world, he beings to wonder if maybe he's made the wrong choice despite his broken-hearted past.
On the other side of all these strong masculine men is Sophie. In the beginning she's a door mat for her husband and Katherine, her mother-in-law. Katherine hates Sophie with a biting passion and the heat of her dislike only intensifies once Sophie has Pierre declared dead. Sophie, refusing to let her mother-in-law grind her down, steps up and takes her rightful place at the head of her late husband's jewelry company. A choice which surprises Judy Dean, a money-hungry former mistress of Pierre's, who still works for the company.
All of the characters' lives are connected in some way to Pierre and his actions. Why did he walk out seven years ago leaving behind his business? What are the connections in Russia? What is Katherine hiding? Will Sophie be successful as she negotiates the minefields of the business world? What happened in Hugh's past? Will Judy finally get what she wants? I feel like I should be telling you to tune in next week for the amazing conclusion.
Louise Bagshawe has adapted some of her novels for films in Hollywood and I can understand why they transfer to the screen so well. Sparkles is the kind of thing you would expect to see on the big screen with some hot starlet in the leading role or late in the afternoon as a made for TV movie. A story filled with beautiful clothes, glittering jewelry, and gorgeous people. If you get bored with those, there is a healthy dose of ambition and betrayal thrown in for good measure. Sparkles is a soap opera and if you enjoy that sort of thing you will not be disappointed.