From Pulitzer Prize – winning author Elizabeth Frank comes Cheat and Charmer, a raw and gripping look at a Hollywood family, the love and obligations that bind them together and the lies and betrayals that tear them apart. Set in 1950s Hollywood, Frank’s novel brilliantly captures a town running scared from the threat of Communism and a looming blacklist. The story revolves around sisters Dinah and Veevi, the one a Hollywood wife and mother, the other a starlet of such astonishing beauty that she is described as the eighth world wonder.
When Dinah is subpoenaed to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee chaired by Senator Joe McCarthy, she makes a decision of great consequence, saving her husband’s career at the expense of her sister’s. Haunted by her testimony, Dinah is forced to reexamine her values and commitments, her marriage and her relationship with her sister. Underneath Veevi’s stunning exterior, Dinah discovers a woman turned ugly by insecurity and duplicity and a sister incapable of meaningful love.
Though the story lacks a storybook ending, it is here that Frank’s talent is most clearly reflected. Her writing rings with uncompromising authenticity, providing the reader an insider’s view of a depraved Hollywood, while exposing the fantasy of its mesmerizing glamour. And while neither of the sisters is Jewish, Cheat and Charmer has the unmistakably Jewish flavor of old Hollywood, with its Jewish studio heads, writers and moneymakers.