Author: Darlene Quinn
Rating: 1.5 out of 5
Genre: Fiction, Finance, Intrigue
Format: Hardcover, paperback, e-book
Publisher: Emerald Book Company
Release Date: 2008
Recommended Reading: AGE+ 18 (No real “naughty” issues, but the topic wouldn’t lend itself to younger readers.)
Received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
OVERALL THOUGHTS: I don’t know if it was the plot, the many, many chapters, the many, many character changes, or the way it reminded me of Dallas (although, the big hair and shoulder pads weren’t present in this book…bummer.) I wanted to like this. I did. I just couldn’t. The bouncing around between plot-lines and multiple chapters/characters started to drive me to distraction, and by the end of the story, I was just glad the constant-drama roller coaster ride was over. Seriously, I had pictures of JR, Sue Ellen, Bobby and Pamela running through my head (along with the famous theme song…hum it with me!) Not a fan of Webs of Power.
SYNOPSIS: Webs of Power is a raw, unsentimental portrayal of greed, manipulation, and relationships set in the excessive, insatiable retail industry of the 1980s. When a hostile takeover of the retail giant Consolidated is announced, the lives of three determined women, each linked to the corporate upheaval, are unexpectedly thrown off course: Paige Toddman’s marriage to Consolidated’s West Coast Division CEO is threatened when she decides to step out of her fast-paced lifestyle to raise the unwanted child she is carrying, a choice driven by her secret past. The fabric of Ashleigh McDowell’s life begins to fray when her fiancé, the president of Consolidated’s West Coast Division, moves away and her father figure faces a lawsuit that could wipe out his controlling shares of the company’s stock. Vain and power hungry, Viviana De Mornay will stop at nothing to become the wife of the man leading the takeover. Set in the excessive, insatiable retail industry of the 1980s, Webs of Power is a thrilling real-world drama with dynamic characters who find the courage to drastically reshape their lives in the face of crises and the twists of fate.
THE LOWDOWN: I was born in 1976, so while I recall a lot about the Eighties, I was a child, and didn’t know squat about Wall Street, mergers and aquisitions, or leveraged buyouts, which seemed to be a big deal back then. What I do remember about the 80’s was that soap operas and dramas were big hits on TV. The scandals, the intrigue…people ate that stuff up! Well, that’s kind of how I feel about this book. For me, it read more like a script for some 80’s-era soap than a book. Here’s why: Webs of Power, Darlene Quinn’s first novel, has 370 pages, plus a 3-page Author’s note that reads like a Department Store primer. It has been separated into 114 chapters. That’s right. 370 pages, 114 Chapters. That’s an average of 3 1/4 pages per chapter (yes, I used a calculator and did the math.) I’ve never encountered anything like it before. I’m reading a different book that is almost three times longer than this one, and it only has 72 chapters. Whoa. Each chapter was from a different character’s POV, which seems like it would be a cool concept, but for me, made it somewhat tricky to keep up, as I was bouncing back and forth between storylines. Thus, the TV drama screenplay feel.
I was not really fond of the author’s portrayal of the characters. While one woman was well-written as a social climber who wasn’t afraid to do whatever she had to to get what she wanted (wealth, fame, and power, of course,) the other two women felt a bit wishy-washy. The author tried to make them seem like strong, independant women, but they came off as unsure and needy. Their men were exactly what you’d expect from big-shot corporate types: aggressive, arrogant, insensitve, perfectionistic, and sometimes downright nuts. The supporting characters weren’t very strong, or interesting…and were occasionally very cliched (enter Sonny, the red-headed personal trainer from Ireland who said top o’ the morning, blarney, and colleen in ridiculous quantities; or Morris, the pudgy, sweaty, failing CEO, who’s got gambling debts up the wazoo, and a terrible toupee…)
The overall plot was somewhat interesting, but mostly…eh. There was a lot of business jargon that, while not difficult to understand, doesn’t necessarily translate to an exciting book. After a while, it got tedious and a bit dry. There was a backstory for two of the female characters, which the author touched on briefly. These tidbits, especially for Ashleigh, were interesting, and they made me wish she’d gone into more detail. By the last third of the story, there was a bit more action and intrigue, which helped make the plot more entertaining. The whole thing eventually ended on a happy tone, which is always nice.