Plume, Sep 2004, 14.00, 340 pp.
In Palo, Alto, California, Amy Hawkins made a fortune in the dot-com boom. Feeling she owes for her fortunate life, Amy decides to improve herself before doing good deeds. She heads to the Alps ski resort Hotel Croix St. Bernard in Valmeri, France where she plans to learn everything French in two weeks.
The good deed surfaces when she pays for the return of dying publisher Adrian Venn, injured in an avalanche to England. Venn's family gathers to carve up the estate with each expecting to trump the other. Amy finds herself in a loony bin as Venn's two adult children and his illegitimate French daughter expect to eliminate their father's young comatose (from the accident) American wife and their infant step-brother from the estate competition before the final battle royal between themselves. Even the solicitors from France and England are skirmishing over who does what to whom arguing which country takes precedence. Finally there are also the outside straphangers ready to take a slice.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner