Cheat and Charmer

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

When Cheat and Charmer’s heroine, Dinah Lasker, is called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee she must “name” her breathtakingly beautiful actress sister Veevi as a Communist in order to save the career of her successful writer—producer husband, Jake, and the affluent Hollywood life she shares with him and their two children. The consequences of her actions are the springboard for the events which follow in this jam-packed novel of love, sex, family, and marriage set against the colorful background of 1950's Hollywood and the expatriate community in Paris.

When Veevi's intellectual film maker husband leaves her for a younger actress, she returns to Hollywood and, unable to work, moves in with Dinah, who is to blame for her blacklisting and feels responsible for her welfare. The twisted history of sibling rivalry between the two women, made even more toxic by Jake's affair with his sister-in-law, lies at the heart of the novel, while the Laskers's marriage provides yet another relationship rich with drama.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Frank spent twenty-five years creating this engrossing page-turner, which is packed with multifaceted characterizations, unexpected plot twists, and betrayals. It offers a fascinating look at mid-century Hollywood and Paris, packed with brilliantly authentic period details. Despite the novel's considerable length, the pace never lets down, and the reader will be tempted to consume it all in one sitting.