In Susan Isaac's most ambitious and dazzling novel to date, we are introduced to Lee White, a criminal defense lawyer practicing on Long Island. Into her life drifts Norman Torkelson, a career con man charged with strangling to death his latest mark. At first, as Lee explains to us, the case seems routine, the evidence overwhelming. Norman--manly, magnetic and morally reprehensible--is a man who crisscrosses America looking for patsies for his cruel marriage scam: Love 'em, liquidate their assets, leave 'em. Clearly, he murdered Bobette Frisch, the dumpy, sour 50-something bar owner who had fallen madly in love with him. But just as Lee is resigning herself to the inevitable "Guilty!" verdict, she begins to have doubts. What, after all, was Norman's motive? Why not do what he had done for the last 20 years: run and leave behind a broke and brokenhearted victim? Lee starts to wonder if her client is not only not guilty but also covering for the real killer and, in doing so, performing the first selfless act of his life.
As the Torkelson case unfolds, a second narrator chimes in to tell us the story behind the story: the tale of Lee's life. Born Lily White, Lee is a smart, pretty and privileged child coming of age on Long Island. Her parents have little time for her or her younger sister, devoted as they are to the pursuit of shallowness. Her mother, Sylvia, who looks like Lauren Bacall's twin sister with a mild eating disorder, is busy with the exhausting work of keeping up her wardrobe. Her father, Leonard Weissberg--Weiss--and finally White, is consumed by his chi-chi Manhattan fur salon, his model-bookkeeper mistress, and his obsession with the family next door, the old-money, oh-so-social Taylors.
When Lee marries Jazz Taylor, the scion of these blue-bloods, her life seems blessed. Suddenly she has her mother's approval, her father's love--and a sublime husband. No matter that she has to give up her dream job in the Manhattan DA's Office to move back to Long Island with him; that's what marriage is, a series of compromises made in the name of love. Isn't it?
Lily White masterfully interweaves the depths of deception surrounding the twisted Torkelson case with the stunning betrayals that devastate Lee's own life. With the characteristic intelligence and delicious, razor-sharp wit displayed in her previous bestsellers, such as After All These Years and Compromising Positions, Susan Isaacs has crafted an extraordinary novel about social mobility -- about what is phony and what is real. Lily White is the seamlessly executed story of the crimes committed in the name of the good life and the victims of these violations: Those like Bobette, who do not survive, those whose spirits are crushed, and the few, like Lee, who fight back--and find something better.
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Susan Isaac's seventh novel is the first story of Lee White, a criminal lawyer on Long Island ensnared with a con man accused of murder. Lee is a privileged, Jewish baby-boomer, whose parents changed their name to White before her birth and then named her Lily. Her family's rise to unhappiness is directly related to their rise to affluence, and Lily tries repeatedly to liberate herself to prove herself as a wife, a daughter, a parent, and a lawyer. Though she struggles with self-doubt, Lily's strength comes from her ability to acknowledge vulnerability and overcome it. As she unravels the truth, she faces some difficult family truths and solidifies her belief in herself.From Publishers Weekly:
Marjorie Morningstar meets Nancy Drew in Isaacs's latest, which succeeds as both a coming-of-age story and a legal thriller. Her wit honed by familiarity with two milieus she knows well, Isaacs creates a character who moves between the conspicuous consumption of upwardly mobile and dying-to-be-assimilated Jews on Long Island and the criminal justice system (Isaacs's husband is a well-known attorney), where a successful trial lawyer sometimes must defend unsavory clients. These spheres are joined in Lily White, nee Lily Rose Weiss, who narrates the sections of the novel that deal with her defense of oily con man Norman Torkelson and her suspicions that his gorgeous girlfriend actually committed the crime for which he is charged, the murder of a "mark" whom he had fleeced out of thousands of dollars by promising to marry her. Running in tandem are chapters that describe Lily's self-absorbed parents' rise in the world and the ludicrous ways in which they try to fit into WASP society. It's especially ironic that when Lily weds super-WASP Jasper "Jazz" Foster, whom she has adored from childhood, the marriage succumbs to pressures that arise as much from class differences as they do from character. Irony succeeds irony when Jazz declares himself in love with Lily's sister, Robin, Lily's complete antithesis. If it sometimes seems that these parallel narratives should have been two different books, most readers will bond with Lily and gladly switch back and forth between the stages of her life. For on one level, Isaacs has created a pitch-perfect social satire; on another, while the suspense is never spine tingling, she has written a psychological thriller whose portraits of an amoral conman and his mate, of the dehumanizing effects of the prison system and of the stages of a criminal investigation are rendered with snappy authenticity. Literary Guild and Doubleday $250,000 main selections; ad/promo; simultaneous audio; author tour; rights: William Morris Agency.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Penguin Books Ltd, 1997. Book Condition: Good. New Ed. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP9583793
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