Candy and Taffy are cousins, best friends and rivals, coming-of-age on Long Island in 1969. Roberta rounds out their clique. Their classmate, Evan Charles, is ready for a girlfriend, and thinks they are out-of-sight, but his father is drowning in an inch of liquid at home. Now he has to wing it. Taffy is there for him, but is it love?
Next door, Countess Mona Bismarck, a horse trainer’s daughter from Kentucky, is in a high-stakes legal battle with Evan’s refined mother over the development of Mona’s sixty-acre estate, Oak Point. The village’s future is at stake. Exploring the semi-abandoned property is Evan’s reckless pastime. When a night of romance there ends in gunfire, his luck takes an unexpected turn.
Paris, 1983. Mona, dying, tells all to Evan, a fledgling writer. From genteel rural poverty to a title in Europe, her many loves, and patronage of Balenciaga. Spencer Gerard, Evan’s black, gay designer friend from high school works for Givenchy, and is his guide to this new world. Together, they sample the pleasures of Paris. The Countess gives Evan a gypsy’s psychic black opal, which she used to become the richest woman in the world. Evan has a more romantic goal. When the girls, now women, re-enter Evan’s life in New York’s publishing world, Mona’s black opal proves its worth.
(photo credit: Ian Johnson, 2016)