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The Master Stroke by Elizabeth Gage

The Master Stroke
The Master Stroke
Elizabeth Gage
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Corgi Books; New Ed edition (1992)
528 pages
PDF size:
1837 kb
FB2 size:
1432 kb
EPUB size:
1318 kb

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The Master Stroke by Elizabeth Gage
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The Master Stroke by Elizabeth Gage
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The Master Stroke by Elizabeth Gage
EPUB version

1432 downloads at 19 mb/s

  • Anen
Great book
  • Bloodfire
Okay read a little twisty but still predictable.
  • Tygrarad
Simon & Schuster did not want Elizabeth Gage. Joni Evans, then the wife of Dick Snyder (who later ran Little Golden Books into the ground, as was reported by Publishers Weekly many times), rejected the book on behalf of S&S. Bill Grose, the head of Pocket Books, somehow got around her, and S&S exercised its topping privilege to win Jay Garon's auction and acquire A GLIMPSE OF STOCKING for $511,500. Garon's contract was a good one: the author retained all rights except North American. With foreign sales, the earnings reached $1.4 million.

S&S didn't want Gage because they had Jackie Collins, that great talent, and Judith Michael, the nerdy husband-and-wife writing team. They were also offended that this first novelist from Glenview, Illinois, had so much more talent than their own authors.

At a lunch at the Four Seasons Restaurant, Michael Korda and his then special friend Trish Lande tried to get Gage and her husband to change to a writing husband-and-wife team like Judith Michael. Gage and her husband refused. S&S walked out of the Four Seasons while the author was in the ladies' room.

Later Korda tried to get Gage to take a lower royalty than the one specified in the contract. Gage refused.After six weeks of pressure. S&S caved.

The editing, by a faceless group of editors, was finished, the book was ready to go to press, when Korda turned the script over to Lande, saying "See if you can find anything wrong with this."

Lande covered the manuscript with coffee stains and cut out chapters which were crucial to the momentum of the book. In a long-distance conference call to Gage in Hawaii, Korda told her, "You have to make Trish's changes. You have to understand why it is so important that you surrender to us."

Gage lectured Korda and Lande over the phone about Chapter 4 of The Great Gatsby, which which Fitzgerald stops the action to simply give the names of the people who visited West Egg that summer. "My chapters are far more important to the movement of the story than Fitzgerald's Chapter 4."

Chastened, furious, Korda said "I guess Trish and I should read those chapters again." In the end the chapters stayed. The book became a New York Times bestseller, But S&S did not forgive. They withdrew Gage's second novel, Pandora's Box, from the stores after one week "for lack of interest."

Jay Garon, furious, moved Gage to Pocket Books, where she received big advances but zero promotion.

As a result, Gage never became a brand name novelist, but her five novels for S&S/Pocket and her two books for Mira remain cult classics with avid fans around the world. Her unique combination of violence, sex, and psychological depth set her far above the Krantzes and Collinses and Bradfords of the writing world.
  • Zieryn
Set in the mid-1950s, Frances Bollinger (Francie), a new graudate determined to make her way in the world of business, finds her path blocked by hidebound, sexist traditions which assert that women have no place in the business world. She manages to get a job at the Magnum Corporation, a company she's admired all her life, but finds that she's paid less than male entrants and given insufficient responsibility. Doing some research, she comes up with an idea to apply the new science of computers to the company's European division, and persuades Jack Magnus, son of the Machiavellian owner, to support her scheme.
Along the way, she and Jack fall in love and plan to marry... until, just before her computerisation project is about to go online, Francie is sacked and Jack marries the woman his father selected as his bride long before. Jilted and betrayed, she starts her own company and sets out to get revenge on the Magnum Corporation, and Jack and Anton Magnum in particular.
I did find the business and computer plots interesting, much more so than I'd anticipated; this aspect of the book is well-written and there are some likeable secondary characters here too. The sub-plot of Anton Magnus's relationship with his family is also well-told, including the sad story of his daughter Juliet, whom Anton has been raping since she was six years old and whose one chance at happiness Anton destroyed.
But I had problems with the characterisation of Jack and Francie. Jack, we were told at the start of the book (from the point of view of both Anton and Jack), did not want to take over the Magnus Corporation. He intended to quit and start his own business. Anton desperately wanted to bring him to heel and hand over the business to him. And yet, when Jack betrays Francie and marries Belinda, we're told that he did this because it was the only way his father would make him his heir. Huh? - he didn't *want* to take over the corporation! I could accept Jack being the villain of the piece; but Gage set that aspect of the plot up wrongly.
We were given too little insight into Francie's motives and feelings once we got past her jilting by Jack. I suppose Gage wanted us to believe that she was trusting Jack again - though I certainly didn't. However, I did want to know how she felt about Sam - kind, considerate, brilliant Sam Carpenter, who - the way Gage wrote the story - was completely shut out of Francie's plans and thought processes. I could understand Sam forgiving Francie if I thought that she'd at least told him something of what was going on.
I think the cover was a big mistake. Looking at the picture - a woman's legs, encased in stockings and suspenders, and with a cane in the woman's hand - readers are led to expect something overtly sexy, if not kinky, rather than the dramatic plot we actually get. Sure, there are sex scenes in the book, but not those implied by the cover - which actually cheapens the book. I found the title inappropriate too, and can't see why Gage didn't continue the chess metaphor. 'Master' certainly works in that context, but 'stroke' does not.
  • caif
A hybrid of Harold Robbins & Sidney Sheldon, with huge helpings of dark sex and psychological wreckage. Billed as a chess match--but games rarely carry such consequences.

The heroine of the novel, Francie Bollinger is very much reminiscent of the heroine of A Glimpse of Stocking. Both are bright young women just beginning their careers; hopes high, ambitious, not yet tainted by the world. In both cases they encounter an extremely powerful man who robs them of their innocence in the worst way possible, igniting a burning desire to succeed and take revenge.

I'm not so big a fan of the boardroom part of the boardroom + bedroom genre, so all that talk about designing computer programs and having meetings was hard going; and there was quite a bit of it, I'll add. The rest I found to be a rather well done depiction of what life is like when daddy is a heartless, ruthless monster who needs to control everyone.
  • Owomed
The birth of the computer dominates this classic tale of passion and revenge in Elizabeth Gage's third outing. Her sexy heroine Francie Bollinger may be a genius in electronics but what a looser she is in romance. In fact, all of Gage's characters stink in love. And boy does she make them suffer for it. From incest to rape to murder, the novel screams of clichés, yet with her skillful plot, characterization and prose Gage succeeds in making this a powerful experience. (SPOILER AHEAD) The bad guys may pay and the good guys may win in the end, but the path to there is one heck of a read.-----Martin Boucher
  • Kison
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