Jeremy Walker is nationally successful as the author of children’s books, the protagonists of which are preadolescent girls who roam a large, mysterious Victorian house. At a publisher’s party in San Francisco, Walker meets Belinda, whose poise and sexuality belie her youth. Conditional on Walker never inquiring into her past, Belinda moves in with him, and Walker undertakes a sequence of portraits tracing their relationship. The pictures are eroticized by Belinda’s nudity while celebrating her sexuality and beauty.
Because of Walker’s reputation, he feels he could never make this work public, yet it represents an artistic breakthrough for him. Belinda serves as his muse, just as she fosters his sexual maturing. Haunted by the mystery of Belinda’s past, Walker commissions a series of investigations. He discovers that she is the child of a 1960’s movie star and a successful, homosexual hair stylist known as G.G.
The mother, Bonnie, has become the star of a television soap opera and is married to its producer, Marty Moreschi, who is himself infatuated with Belinda. Belinda’s and Jeremy’s liaison is discovered, and through a series of schemes and misunderstandings, they separate bitterly. Belinda describes her past to Jeremy in a long letter. Final events move from Jeremy’s old family home in New Orleans back to San Francisco and involve the American premiere of a Greek film in which Belinda had a featured part playing a lesbian love scene.
The book’s involved, soap-opera plot twists and sometimes lush, mildly erotic style support a story that variously resonates with the sexual obsessions of Lewis Carroll, a 1960’s film about Hollywood called INSIDE DAISY CLOVER, Roger Vadim’s employment of Brigitte Bardot, and Brooke Shield’s teenage nudity in PRETTY BABY. Jeremy Walker’s painting style is superrealistic. He justifies his canvases as burning studies that explore surfaces so as to evoke strong underlying emotions. As such, he may easily be viewed as a rationale and surrogate for Anne Rice, whose book will undoubtedly prove to be a popular success.