Summary (Masterplots II: British and Commonwealth Fiction Series)
As its title suggests, The Takeover is a novel about takeovers: the takeover of Italian property by the Americans, Maggie, Michael, and Mary; Huber Mallindaine’s occupation of Maggie’s villa; Coco de Renault’s swindling of Maggie’s fortune; and Lauro’s acquisition of her property.
As the novel begins, Maggie is trying to evict Hubert Mallindaine, her one-time favorite, from her villa at Nemi. Maggie owns three villas at Nemi—the second occupied by her son, Michael, and his wife, Mary, and the third rented to Dr. Emilio Bernardini and his children, Pietro and Letizia. Mary, wanting to make a “success” of her marriage, is sympathetic to her mother in-law’s point of view, while the Bernardinis refuse to help oust Hubert, an Englishman who claims to be a direct descendant of the goddess Diana of Nemi.
Both “high priest” and “pure fake,” Hubert mythologizes his own ancestry while having Maggie’s furniture and paintings forged, selling the originals and accumulating a healthy bank account in Switzerland. A manipulative and charismatic man, Hubert inspires in his secretary, Pauline Thin, a loyalty that allows her not only to work for him without wages but also to serve as priestess in his cult, the Friends of Diana.
The second half of the novel is shaped by a series of reversals. Pauline Thin denounces Hubert as a fraud; Maggie hires Lauro (a self-serving houseboy who has slept with Maggie, Mary, and...
(The entire section is 345 words.)
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