The Two Mrs. Grenvilles
by Dominic Dunne
This excellent novel traces the rise and
fall of an ambitious small town girl who makes it to New York City and marries
the son of one of Gotham's richest and most blue blood families.
Mr. Dunne does a marvelous job of creating his characters - esp. the showgirl Mrs. Grenville. Her mother-in-law, the old, crusty Mrs. Alice Grenville is the other Mrs. Grenville.
Ann Archer, born in Pittsburg, Kansas, dances in the Copacabana and various chorus lines, lives the life in the fast lane - accepting gifts from the men she goes out with and, even once, is rumored to have been the girl who pops out of a birthday cake for a scion of another blue blood family.
William Grenville never learns of the nude dancing at his friend's bachelor party. He gets from Ann sexual pleasure, heirs, and some independence from his mother, the matriarch of the family. He also gets to shed his nickname, Junior.
For several years things are just dandy - they go to parties nearly every night.
The start of their downswing is Ann's insatiable lust
and awkward awe of royalty. Her first revealed affair (Mr. Dunne does such
a wonderful job that hints of other affairs seems to make the novel a revelation
of a real life that he knows more of) is with Lord somebody of England.
When Billy realizes what has happened, he reacts by becoming more aware
of her flaws than of her strengths. And her flaws are considerable. She
creates riotous scenes at some of the best parties of the world, usually
motivated by her anxiety that Billy might leave her - and she'd lose the
prominent place in society that she valued so much.
One night after a row at an upper crust party, Billy reveals that he has discovered that she was married before they met and that she had never gotten a divorce. Ann suspects that he get free of her and she'll not even get a divorce settlement to continue her life style. She shoots him with a shotgun and claims that she thought he was a prowler that was harrassing them.
After this, much publicity revealing her lower class