First an incriminating photo and blackmailed threat arrive in the mail, and then her secret former lover, Frank’s cousin Caspian, returns from Vietnam a war hero and helps bolster Frank’s first political campaign. Caspian seems honorable and trustworthy, so Tiny can’t imagine he’d be blackmailing her – but how did the photos he took get into someone else’s hands? And thanks to a reporter’s questions and her own intuition, she suspects Frank’s hiding something, too. Providing unexpected moral support is Tiny’s beautiful sister, Pepper, whose adventures in the forthcoming Along the Infinite Sea promise to be most excellent.
Novels showing the downsides of life among the glamorous elite are hardly new, but Tiny’s sympathetic and engaging voice, even addressing the reader on occasion, ensures she isn’t a cliché. The plight of returning Vietnam soldiers is touched upon only lightly, and Caspian feels a bit idealized, but in showing the pressures endured by celebrities of both genders, the novel sends a heartfelt message about the struggles everyone faces between our public and private selves.
Tiny Little Thing was published by Putnam in June ($26.95 or Can$33.00, hb, 386pp). This review first appeared in August's Historical Novels Review.