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Cigarettes and Jews in the American South are the stuff of this romantic family saga--from the veteran author of Trespassing Hearts (1992), etc. The story here--hardly sui generis--features an intrepid heroine, Viktoria Gunsburg, who's treated badly by the fates: at 15, she's forced to leave her loving mama and papa in Petrograd to avoid the savageries of the Revolution. Before she does, though, her father tells her not to let on that she's Jewish. Vicky lands in Paris, where, as a chambermaid at the Hotel Crillon, she meets a handsome American officer, Gary Barton, scion of a big Richmond tobacco company: Gary's dark secret is that he wants to be a composer instead of working for the Barton weed company, although once he weds Vicky and takes her home, he caves in and does the latter. Vicky finds herself very much a stranger in Old Dominion, until she produces two male heirs (dear Michael and bad seed Adam), assumes control of the company after big daddy Daniel Barton has a stroke, and locates a small enclave of Jews in Richmond. But life is long, and more troubles come--including Gary's suicide, Michael's death in WW II, and Vicky's slow-growing awareness that cigarettes are coffin nails. She'll do battle with the whole Barton tribe over the Surgeon General's concerns, then wind up happy at last--as apparently all Ellis heroines must. gently read from a smokefree home
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