Boekverslag : Nicola Thorne - Champagne Gold
De taal ervan is Engels en het aantal woorden bedraagt 2465 woorden.

1. Short contents

“Champagne gold” is the thrilling story of a young business woman called Sandra O’Neill who inherits an empire of champagne business, civilian planes, fighter planes,...

She’s hated by Georges Desmond’s ( the man from whom she had inherited the empire) eldest son, Zac and his junior sister Belle. The two of them are constantly scheming up vicious plans to get rid of her in order to maintain their positions as rightful heirs of the company. Meanwhile Sandra has lost her husband and has fallen in love with another man after the birth of her son. Zac uses a man who embezzled company money while he was in charge of the company and this same man’s girlfriend to frame Sandra. The man was killed afterwards and his girlfriend sword revenge. Zac also tried to destroy Heurtey, the guy Sandra loved. He used, manipulated and made a lot of people look foolish in his attempt to remove Sandra from her position. He succeeded but he also had his finger in too many pies and eventually paid with his life for it.

2. Themes

· The secret marriage.

The early chapters of this part of the story tells more about the secret marriage between Sandra and her husband Doctor Michel Harcourt. Michel was a virologist who sacrificed his career as a medical researcher to work in a remote clinic in Kenya to test his theories on the AIDS virus. He was brutally murdered by bandits. The Desmonds and even some of the people Sandra trusted didn’t know about their marriage and only found out shortly after his death. Some of her allies resented her for that. For business reasons Sandra did not tell her husband she was expecting their child. Dr. Harcourt died shortly after he learned he was about to be a father. He was on his way to celebrate the good news with his wife when he and his male-servant Hassan were assassinated.

This part also tells about the Desmonds pretending to take Sandra in as a member of the family just to take advantage of her vulnerability as a young mother. Here she also learns that her former brother Bob O’Neill has been kidnapped. ( See ‘characters’ for more details).

· The lion’s den

Here Bob realises that he has fallen into a lion’s den for having a sexual relationship with Zac’s wife Tara. He was kidnapped and the kidnappers demanded a ransom of twenty million pounds from his sister Sandra.

Zac is a very powerful and mischievous man and Bob knew it was foolish of him to pursue his wife but he couldn’t help falling in love with Tara the moment he saw her. When Bob heard Tara had left Zac and was staying in Rome, he took his chance and flew from America to try and win her heart. He succeeded and it was in her tiny apartment that the kidnappers found them and he was taken away.

Sandra also falls into a lion’s den (although she doesn’t know this) when she accept the bottles Zac designed for the special cuvée for her son. This will lead to disasters.

· The fatal flaw

Here Sandra and David Heurtey start becoming really fond of each other. David come from America with his so called secretary/personal assistant, Joanne Pasarro. Zac Desmond came up with another plan in which people were framed. He acted in the name of David and tried to take over Cassini, a company much bigger than Heurtey. Not even the best trained eyes saw through his plans and this was their fatal flaw!

Also Belle’s husband Prince Carl von Burg-Farnbach was accidentally murdered because he was mistaken for someone else.

· The kiss of Judas

Zac’s intentions to embarrass David Heurtey worked and he got away with it unpunished. His other plans to dispose of his worse enemy Sandra were also advancing. He did everything in his power to make sure his plans succeeded and that he wasn’t linked to any of them. Kidnapping Bob was also a part of his plans. When his scheme came to its’ highlight he released Bob and made it seem as though he had rescued Bob from the Mafia. When Zac kissed Sandra after she had thanked him for this, she felt it as the kiss of Judas, because deep down inside she still didn’t trust him.

· A woman scorned

The special cuvée Louis d’Or had been totally ruined and only about fifty thousand out of the two hundred thousand bottles of champagne had been saved. It was destroyed due to massive weeping of the bottles which had been drawn by Zac.

Shortly after this Sandra was accused of embezzlement and her functions were taken from her irrevocably and passed on to Zac Desmond. She was framed but couldn’t prove it and she was scorned! At last Eva Raus took sweet revenge for being scorned too!

3. Style extract

Nicola Thorne wrote from an auctorial perspective. The person telling the story knew everything from past to present about all the characters. I believe that the author is the one telling the story. Because of this the author gave a lot of clues to the readers. By this the reader knew more than the characters. For example: you could know what someone was thinking as a reader. The reader came into a situation where a lot a had happened in the past and gradually learned what these events were and got to know the characters better. Sometimes Thorne uses many pages to describe an event that lasted only for only a short. To keep the reader in suspense she stops in the middle of a part when the tension is getting high and begins or continues with another one. Also to augment the tension she uses retardation.

4. Characters

Sandra O’Neill is an Irish woman who lived in the US and later in France. She was left a multi-international company by Georges Desmonds. No one really knew his motives for choosing her as his heiress. She’s known to be a most attractive business woman. She acts on her intuition and is right most of the time. She gave birth to her firstborn Louis shortly after loosing her husband Dr. Michel Harcourt She never really knew who her father was. Her mother is a former actress called Virginia Wingate. Sandra is very respected and loved by most of her employees and a first class business woman. She fell in love with the head of another world-known company. She’s also known as Madame Harcourt and she’s always been on her guard knowing that the Desmonds were plotting to get rid of her. But once again she let Zac deceive her when he designed bottles for her son’s cuvée and offered to help her find Bob. Despite always being on her guard she oversaw one minor thing that led to her downfall. This shows that she’s but human with mistakes.

Zac Desmond is a man filled with hatred because he was disinherited by his father with whom he had never seen eye to eye. Since his father’s death he and his sister Belle have tried to get rid of Sandra. He hated her so much that he had name for her such as ‘Irish bitch’, ‘Tart’, ‘Whore’ and so on. He always pays others to do his dirty work for him so that when people find out, he doesn’t get caught. He’s extremely violent to his wife, he’s manipulative, he’s dangerous in a sense that he threatens people and he’s not afraid of letting others make this come true and many people are afraid of him for this. He tends to deceive people very often. After he disposes of Sandra as the head of the Desmond Company, he gets what’s coming to him for making so many people’s a living nightmare. He gets stabbed and goes into a coma. The most devious of men brought down to his knees by a woman!

Belle Desmond, also known as Princess von Burg-Farnbach, also hated the idea that her father had disinherited them and resented him for that. She knew about her brother’s plans to destroy Sandra and she supported him. Belle is very perverse in her sexuality and although she was married to Prince Carl von Burg-Farnbach and they have a son, she had an affair with a Romanian democrat called Radu Lepescu. He mysteriously disappeared and left her grieving about him for weeks. She and Carl had an unspoken agreement between them: they led separate lives and knew of each other’s affairs. After Carl was found murdered the police thought his mistress Lady Christine Palmer was the potential killer and arrested her. She gets angry because nobody ever thinks that she can run the company.

Lady Elizabeth is an English woman of aristocratic origins who had married Georges Desmond. They had four children: Z ac, Belle, Tim and Claire. She never forgave Claire for marrying a street artist. Claire had always been different from the rest of her family and welcomed Sandra with open arm. Lady Elizabeth was the third person to resent Georges for disinheriting this children. She too was aware of her eldest son’s plans and approved of them.

Tara Desmond is Zac’s wife. They have two children. She’s an Italian ex model. Tara left Zac and went back to Italy where she was later joined by Bob. She often visited her brother Marco Falconetti, a petty criminal who was used by to hide Bob after he was kidnapped. Tara knew who had kidnapped Bob but didn’t tell Sandra because she was threatened by her own husband. She’d been fond of Sandra and eventually they became partners after Zac had thrown Sandra down as head of his father’s pride and joy.

Paul Strega used to be Zac Desmond’s batman when they were young. As grown-ups Zac had saved him from going to jail after he had killed his house lady. He then became Zac’s partner in crime and was called to do most of his master’s dirty work. Because Strega knew how Zac is, he also deceived him as Zac had done him. Strega has a very mean face and other’s are afraid of him too. To find Romanetto, he had worked with Dan Akhi in Thailand and to frame Sandra, he had worked with another criminal called Gomez. He fled in fear of Zac finding out that he had double-crossed him and also in fear of being killed.

Antoinette Lagasse is Sandra loyal and trusting secretary. She joins Sandra on every business trip. Antoine Dericourt is the managing director of the Aeronautic group of the Desmond Company. He was also devoted to his boss and loved her. When asked by Sandra to act as negotiator when Bob was kidnapped, he couldn’t refuse although he didn’t know anything about this kind of thing. Marie is Sandra’s maid and Mireille was appointed by Doctor Marc Pichon as one of the best nursemaids to look after Louis. René Latour also helped Zac destroy the special cuvée in honour of Louis.

Bernado Romanetto was an employee at the Desmond Company in Italy and embezzled twenty-five million dollars which he got away with for four years. He met Eva Raus when she was a callgirl and he used to rent her. He and Eva had run off with the money to Thailand but were not enjoying themselves much. They were traced by Dan Akhi and were threatened if they chose not to cooperate with Zac Desmonds schemes. Eva, a blond Austrian who spoke many languages acted as Sandra Wingate so to frame Sandra. She was meant to look like her and commit crimes in her name and she succeeded. After Romanetto was killed, she still worked with Strega believing she would be given a lot of money afterwards. Just like many people she was deceived and it was she who had dressed up as Sandra and stabbed Zac while making love to him.

David Heurtey is the head of the Heurtey Company in Europe. He came to France after his father’s death and he and his brother had divided the company between them. He wanted to meet Sandra in person after hearing so much about her. David grew fond of her and fell in love with her eventually. David Heurtey is a sportsman first to a businessman. He favours playing golf to running his company and this almost led to his downfall. He and Sandra quarrelled a lot because he likes to mix business with pleasure and she doesn’t.

Bob O’Neill had believed his entire life that Sandra O’Neill was his biological sister but Lady Elizabeth revealed during the court case that Sandra was not the daughter of Hélène O’Neill, Bob’s mother. His love for Tara also led to his kidnap. He was guarded by Luigi and Nikki while incarcerated in Rome and in the mountains he was guarded by Alfredo and Benno. Here he befriended a cat called Tomas who kept him company during the lonely days.

Joanne Pasarro came with David Heurtey to France as his assistant/PA but they soon revealed to Sandra that she’s actually a private investigator specialised in fraud. She had a photographic memory and was very good at her job. David asked her to look into Bob’s kidnapping. Although she’s a number one PI she let Heurtey down when she failed to spot out Zac’s plans to take over Cassini, which was a very unwise decision. She became good friends with Sandra and helped her locate Russell Ryan, who Sandra believed to be her father, at David’s request and also to make up for failing him.

5. Personal opinion

I think “Champagne gold” is a splendid story. I mostly admire the author for creating such an exquisite story of romance, deception, flaws, vulnerabilities, crimes, deaths, search for identities and glorious locations based on pure fantasy and inside information by François d’Aulan, president of a distinguished champagne house. I’d recommend this book to old and young. Most people may not relate to the rich lives of the characters but there are most certainly other aspects that everyone can relate to. Sandra has that self-confidence that I recognise in myself. Being suspicious also comes in handy especially knowing there aren’t many people to be trusted. I believe Sandra’s character may provide lots of young girls and even women with the motivation they need to realise their dreams. This book shows that there are really intelligent women out there, somewhere. Intuition is also a huge part of the story and that intrigued me even more. I wasn’t bored in anyway reading the book. Although one page was very perversely written which was dedicated to Belle and Radu’s sexual intimacy. It keeps its readers on the edge of their chairs with great suspense. It is certainly on top of my favourite books. But the characters admired Sandra too much sometimes!

(Nicola Thorne)
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