Monday, 7 April 2008

Three Girls and their Brother by Theresa Rebeck


FAMOUS for being famous, supermodels - all legs and hair and gleaming teeth - seem more thoroughbred racehorses than human girls.

But as we've seen tragically in Ireland in recent months, all that glitz can bring a youngster into the ambit of some creepy people, and send her life reeling out of control.

For the three Heller sisters in Theresa Rebeck's wonderful first novel, their entrée into the glamourpuss life comes from being the granddaughters of a world-shaking literary critic - and having gorgeous flaming red hair.

But the glamour quickly brings them into the life of macho star 'Rex Wentworth' (now, who could that be?)

Rebeck hasn't written a novel before, but she's a playwright whose work is popular all over the US, and she's written for written for such shows as LA Law, American Dreamer, Maximum Bob, First Wave, and Third Watch. She's a TV producer, and comes garlanded with prestigious awards.

The hell with that, though - more important, she can make you laugh and cry and love her characters and want to know what happens to them next.

Anyone who's every jumped feet first into a screaming family row will recognise the touch of a master here.

The invisible father who married a Miss America runner-up and then left her with four children under 10; the ex-beauty-queen stage mom who hasn't got two brain cells to rub together; the icy survivor of abuse; the chivalrous big brother and confused youngest sister - these are all people you grow to love as you read.

What a triumph.

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