An Inconvenient Woman

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Meet Flo M., Phil Q., Jules, and Pauline. AN INCONVENIENT WOMAN’s characters come from two worlds where first names are de rigueur, but they could not be more separate socially--the first pair belong to the world of Alcoholics Anonymous and the second to the rarefied blue-blood atmosphere of high society.

Flo March is Jules Mendelson’s mistress, and Pauline is his wife. Mendelson’s need for both these women is the focus of the book, with appearances by Philip Quennell serving as a bridge between Hollywood and high society. Mendelson’s inconvenient heart attack in the arms of his inconvenient woman is the thread that leads to the unraveling of all their lives.

It is obvious throughout the book that Flo, as an inconvenient woman, is going to come to a nasty end. Equally obvious is the fact that the rich shall triumph over scandal through judicious use of money. If Dunne is parodying high society foibles and Sidney Sheldon novels, he has done such an excellent job as to appear to have written an authentically catty account of the rich while perfecting a style worthy of his character Cyril Blackstone, a fawning society columnist who turns nasty when spurned socially by Pauline Mendelson.

For those interested in Hollywood-watching, the name of the character Joel Zircon may bring to mind that of the famous producer Joel Silver, and there are probably many other thinly disguised personages in this baring of the seamy side of Los Angeles society.