Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Enticement of Cindy: A Heady Brew of Luscious Ladies and Delectable Indiscretions by John Colleton.
This book marks the first time I’ve been able to read one of the fourteen Cloris & Amy books of John Colleton following on its immediate predecessor (The Delights of Anna, in this case). I was surprised to find that the narrator had changed! The other books I’ve read all had Bill Benton–actually absent and only occasionally mentioned here–as the narrator. This book is “written by” John Dellmore in the way that the others I’ve read have been by Bill. Other than a brief detour to New York City, it takes place entirely in Charleston, and it is centered on John’s relationship to his aunt Amy. John is back from Oxford and about to embark on an unpromising academic career, but he is drawn into the “charmed circle” of Amy, Cloris, and their lucrative and lubricious projects.
The story proceeds with the help of many embedded texts, primarily Amy’s diary, in which the reader is offered the frisson of seeing through John’s eyes Amy’s private accounts of her early encounters with him, as he both indulges his own curiosity and uses the content as material for a screenplay. The screenplay draft itself is another component. There is also a snippet from a Bill Benton book (one of the other Cloris & Amy novels?) and various pieces of media reportage. Colleton flaunts some esoteric erudition with throwaway references to the Hashishin and Jakob Boehme in rather surreal news reports (214, 218).
Colleton succeeds in giving John a different voice than Bill, and I think I preferred it on the whole. John is conscious of his own unfortunate tendency towards dry academicism and defeats it fairly well. This younger narrator is however no less preternaturally fortunate in winning the attentions and affections of the women in the story. The eponymous Cindy is a former competitive diver and Las Vegas dancer who is being groomed as a candidate for public office, but she doesn’t even get a mention until past the midpoint of the novel. As is typical for these books, a subplot (superplot?) makes hay out of moral hypocrisy in politics, and the ending is comedic with some incidental violence helping to tie up the loose ends. Published in 1981, it definitely reflects the US culture of its time on a variety of levels.