Susan Isaacs Michiko Kakutani - Essay

Michiko Kakutani

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Susan Isaacs's literary models in "Almost Paradise"] appear to be Erich Segal, Judith Krantz and Janet Dailey. To be sure, she has some of their tricks down pat: she manages, in the course of the book, to range over some three generations and two continents, tangle her characters in lots of messy relationships and compromising positions, and for good measure, throw in some incest and a lengthy deathbed scene.

All this should make for fast, if not exactly edifying, reading, but it doesn't. The reader knows from the second page what is going to happen, and the only suspense that remains has to do with how many clichés Miss Isaacs can pack into the remaining 480-odd pages. The characters not only speak in clichés—since much of this book takes place in the movie world, "you're going to be a big star" is a favorite expression—but most of them are clichés, devoid of any inner life and equipped with only the most obvious of emotions….

As for Miss Isaacs's style and narrative approach, the first sentence of the book should give you a pretty good idea of where "Almost Paradise" is headed: "Jane Cobleigh," it reads, "was on a British Airways Concorde, flying faster than sound to try and reclaim her husband."

Michiko Kakutani in a review of "Almost Paradise," in The New York Times, Section 3, February 1, 1984, p. 23.