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By Lorraine Zago Rosenthal. Thomas Dunne Books. 336 pages. $24.99
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
The novel “New Money” is based on an old premise: A rags-to-riches story in which a plucky young heroine learns she is actually the daughter of a billionaire and must adapt to her new, princess-like life.
While the novel is riddled with cliches, predictable stock characters and far-fetched scenarios, author Lorraine Zago Rosenthal manages to keep the story flowing at a brisk pace.
Savannah Morgan is languishing in Charleston, S.C. She has a college degree and a dream of being a writer, but she’s dawdling in a dead-end job and spending time and energy wondering if she did the right thing turning down a marriage proposal from her high school boyfriend.
Everything changes when she gets a call from a New York City attorney, informing her that the father she never knew was Edward Stone, a multimedia mogul who was killed in a suspicious car crash. Stone has left his fortune to Savannah — the product of a brief affair and whom he never met — and cut her two half-siblings from his unhappy marriage out of the will.
The only stipulation for Savannah to claim her inheritance is to move to Manhattan and start working for her late father’s corporation.
Savannah not only has to deal with her less-than-happy family situation — her half-siblings and their mother are rich, entitled snobs whose goal is to get her to leave the city — she must decide between two love interests: Jack, a wealthy real estate developer, and Alex, a bartender with a dark past.
The problems with the story are many.
Charleston, S.C , is a city with a population of more than 125,000. Rosenthal makes it seem more like Mayberry. It’s unclear why Savannah is wasting her time and her education on dead-end jobs, or why she demonstrates her Southern sass by constantly putting her hands on her hips.
Most of the wealthy people are entirely reprehensible. The men are manipulative and ruthless; the women are stuffy and mean. The noble characters are the hard-working members of the staff forced to wait on these rotten rich folks.
Many plot twists are foreshadowed with too much detail, leading to predictable outcomes. Two story lines — including the circumstances of Edward Stone’s death — are not concluded.
Still, I found myself devouring the book in one sitting, riveted to the story’s progression. Reading “New Money” is like watching a movie that, while certainly no Oscar contender, draws you in and holds your attention to the end.
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