BOOK REVIEW: The old 80s standards, Lace and Lace 2

As with Valley of the Dolls, three quarters of this book was terribly boring and terribly long. The good part only started in the last quarter, and had me crying. The other bad part, I was still thinking about this book a day later and couldn’t wait to read the sequel to see what happens. It actually had me caring what happened to these people. Probably because my own life is such shit.
The stories of five women all entwined throughout the book starts in 1963 with the prelude, it’s sad, it sucks, and sets the story for the rest of the 751 pages of this very ’80s covered edition. The story is told across 63 chapters and 12 parts with chapter 1 being told in the present of 1978. Chapter 2 is when the backstory starts, way back to 1948.
The story ducks, weaves, and leaves you confused as to ages and times. The timeline is dodgy and I had to go back and check the years in order to get this review straight. Finding, that they missed the important part altogether, which, to tell the story, needed to be told at the end.
Pagan, Kate and Maxine are schoolmates in Switzerland, 1948. Judy works at the local hotel and they befriend her, and her non-beau Nick, who is later killed in war. Sex abounds and I suppose the common day comparison would be Gossip Girls. High school girls drinking and having sex, not caring about getting pregnant. In fact, the sex scenes disturbed me as many were actual rapes which the girls put out of their minds as bad experiences, or which they thought was normal for first time experiences.
Kate was incredibly weak, having an abusive father she ended up with abusive men, one who later came out as a transvestite. She ended up a journalist and then a magazine reporter. Pagan went through several relationships and became a drunk and hermit before marrying a Lord and throwing herself into raising money for cancer research, Maxine ended up with a Count and three sons, and a massive career in interior design, and Judy moved to New York and became a PR publicist.
Lili, the antagonist, the fifth woman, the child, had her own horror story to contend with, and not only was it incredibly sad and made me cry, it also made me angry that she didn’t fight harder. She was fostered as a baby, but her foster mother married a Hungarian and a year later went with him to Hungary before the revolution started. They were hunted down and only Lili managed to escape. Her life was spent in a camp until she was fostered by an ungrateful couple in Paris. At 13 she became pregnant and had an abortion (this is the prelude which sets the scene for the whole book) and to pay for it posed nude for a leery guy called Serge who rapes and abuses her when he’s not happy. She stays with him for years, becoming a huge star in sex movies until a rich Greek tycoon takes her away, but he dies after three years together and his lawyer is a crafty sod who takes advantage of the situation and her. Thankfully, she has money of her own, and makes a life for herself. Until it leads her to New York in 1978, in a hotel room where she has asked Pagan, Kate, Maxine and Judy to attend.
The end felt…rushed. There was no big dramatic scene which Lili had always imagined. There was no hug, no love, no nothing, except a half-truth and a lie. I presume that will all happen in Lace 2. It ended with an epilogue, but that was only the definition of Lace, which is what Judy’s company is called, and then the author, Shirley Conran went on to tell us who the characters were based on. Quite a story in itself.
The book’s lead-in line is “which one of you bitches is my mother?” So you know exactly where it’s going and I won’t tell you anything else.
Books like Lace were the tried and true of the time. Just as Dolls was very ’60s, Lace is very ’80s in its blockbuster, sweeping way. Many a miniseries came from massive bestselling 80s books, and sadly, many did not follow the actual book storyline, so I will not be watching the movie of the same title. But I will be reading book 2 to find out what happens when Lili finds out who her real father is…
So, I read book 2. 
What a convoluted, disjointed, bloody mess it was.
First off, right from the prologue they say Judy was sixteen when she was pregnant, even though the first book said fifteen. Once again it jumped all over the place, hence being disjointed. And suddenly, there are three other potential fathers.
After Lili is kidnapped in chapter one (the book’s timeline jumps around again), three men get letters demanding ransom. All three, apparently, are potentially her father. As it turns out, Judy finally reveals all near the end to Sandy, the winner of the beauty contest Lili was judging. God knows why she’d confide in her, only because Sandy pushed the question about Lili’s father.
Second, there are way too many people who mean nothing in this book. Besides the three men who are suddenly potentially her father, there’s a new man for Judy who crushes on Lili, then there’s Gregg the racing car driver Lili’s seeing after she dumped the boyfriend of two years, Simon, because she found out he was gay.
Then Prince Abdullah comes back and woos Pagan after her husband dies from injuries sustained from a car accident, and a week after his death her dog dies. Little does he know he’s Lili’s real father.
But you get this convoluted backstory of these boyfriends Judy had at the age of 15. She’s raped by Abdullah, then a month later has sex with a new guy Curtis, and when he dumps her a month later has sex with some British kid who turns into a rock star in his later years. There are all these people who could be the culprit, but it ends up being the personal trainer Judy hired at her work to get the staff healthy.
There’s not much story on him (his mother is domineering and controlling and he’s under her thumb) which is why it’s so pathetic. So is the ending.
They figure out where Lili is probably hidden and go looking for her. Pagan falls from a roof, and Judy tries to talk Tony down while getting her daughter out of the room he has her trapped in.
The book ends badly, quite frankly. They all get outside where Tony is shot dead and Judy frees Lili from her handcuffs and hugs her, then Lili says, “You did come for me. My real mother did come for me, in the end.”
That’s all we get? After investing in this hideous ’80s crap, that’s all we get?
We find out that Maxine had figured out Lili’s heritage, and in the end Pagan did too. Kate wasn’t even in the book that much as her character disappeared to the middle of a war to write about it.
But that’s all we get? What a crock of shit!
Clearly, Shirley Conran didn’t bother re-reading her first book to get the details right when she wrote this, and clearly, she had no idea what the story was going to be when she did write it. This is a mixed up, mess of garbage that is really disappointing.
Don’t expect the mother daughter relationship to be there. It isn’t. And while Pagan figures out why, Lili was born from rape not love, it really doesn’t focus on the bond that should be growing between Judy and Lili. And that would be because a year later there is none.
I’m disappointed. As much as book 1 was crap, I invested enough to read book 2 and was bitterly let down by the conclusion. Which is crap! I was considering reading Shirley’s other books, but if this is the way she writes, I’ll go back to Jackie Collins, thanks very much. Would love to know if you’ve ever read these books and what you thought.
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