Cheat and Charmer by Elizabeth Frank
A Novel

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 7 Critic Reviews



Twenty-five years in the making, a first novel that has already been compared to The Sun Also Rises and The Last Tycoon, Cheat and Charmer is certain to be one of the most admired literary debuts of the season. Written by Pulitzer Prize—winning biographer Elizabeth Frank, Cheat and Charmer is a masterful and richly detailed work of fiction–a Tolstoyan novel of marriage, sisterhood, art, politics, compromise, and betrayal set in Hollywood, New York, Paris, and London of the 1950s.
Dinah Lasker grew up in the shadow of her sister, Veevi, a stunning beauty and emerging star who enchanted both the Hollywood set and its imported New York literati. But Veevi’s home was also a hotbed of political activity, owing to her marriage to Stefan Ventura, a Bulgarian filmmaker and high-profile Communist. At the end of the 1930s, when things go badly for him in Hollywood, Ventura and Veevi flee to Paris and into the lengthening shadows of Hitler and fascism.
Cut to 1951, when Dinah is subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee, which threatens to ruin her husband, Jake, and derail his successful career as a Hollywood writer, producer, and director unless she cooperates. Can Dinah live with herself if she names Veevi–whom she both loves and loathes–in order to save her husband and preserve her idyllic married life? The choices Dinah makes set in motion an unforgettable chain of events. Like Anna Karenina, Dinah must face the consequences of her choices and her needs.
Written with elegance and style, Cheat and Charmer grippingly dramatizes the interior lives of Dinah, Veevi, Jake, and their social circle. Spanning decades and following complex characters on their impassioned pursuits through America and Europe, this is a novel of grand scope, about love and deception, idealism and accommodation, the lies we live, and the truths we cannot avoid.

About Elizabeth Frank

See more books from this Author
Elizabeth Frank won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for her biography Louise Bogan: A Portrait. She is also the author of Jackson Pollack and Esteban Vicente. She has written many articles and book reviews on art and literature for The New York Times Book Review, The New York Times Magazine, and Art in America, among others. She is the Joseph E. Harry Professor of Modern Languages and Literature at Bard College.
Published January 1, 2004 by Random House Publishing Group. 552 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Cheat and Charmer

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

Reputedly a hero of the Resistance along with her late first husband, European director Stefan Ventura, Veevi is now “unemployable”—and her rapacious desire to survive is encapsulated in a remark made to the wayward Jake, comparing herself to Dinah: “She wants things.

Oct 01 2004 | Read Full Review of Cheat and Charmer: A Novel

The New York Times

See more reviews from this publication

After she testifies, Dinah endures a gamut of reactions, ranging from contemptuous accusation to the silent treatment to sympathy, which Frank (whose father was the Hollywood writer, director and producer Melvin Frank) calibrates very skillfully.

Nov 14 2004 | Read Full Review of Cheat and Charmer: A Novel

The New York Times

See more reviews from this publication

She is subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee and names names, including that of her sister Veevi - all to ensure that her husband Jake's career as a Hollywood screenwriter isn't imperiled, and to make sure that she never loses her beautiful house with its beautiful gardens and ...

Oct 04 2004 | Read Full Review of Cheat and Charmer: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

Dinah's decision to testify takes place early in the novel and torments her throughout the decade or so that follows, but Frank gradually reveals that "fink" Dinah is really the only decent character in town.

Aug 16 2004 | Read Full Review of Cheat and Charmer: A Novel

RT Book Reviews

Search books by title, genre, publication month, publication year, and rating or search by any combination of these options (i.e.

| Read Full Review of Cheat and Charmer: A Novel

Entertainment Weekly

Nor is Dinah repaid for her loyalty to her famously gorgeous sister Veevi (''a born predator with the conscience of a cat''), who moves in with Dinah and Jake following the failure of her own marriage, with predictably disastrous results.

Oct 08 2004 | Read Full Review of Cheat and Charmer: A Novel

USA Today

It's a tale of two sisters, one hot, one not so much.The smoldering one is former starlet Veevi, whose porcelain softness belies a frighteningly steely ruthlessness.The also-ran is Dinah, the quintessential nice girl forever overshadowed by her glamorous goddess of a sister.Their delicate balance...

| Read Full Review of Cheat and Charmer: A Novel

Reader Rating for Cheat and Charmer

An aggregated and normalized score based on 11 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review