At the age of 12 I first read this Sidney Sheldon novel, the first “grown up” novel that I can remember ever having read. It remains one of my favourites and also brings me nostalgic memories of a much simpler & care free time.
Master Of The Game is about the almost Queen like Kate Blackwell, on her 90th birthday still running a huge company. We are flashbacked to her dad, Jamie McGregor, who at 19 moves to South Africa to find his fortune in diamonds. He is cheated by the richer Saloman Van Der Meer and as revenge Jamie seduces and impregnates the former’s daughter Maggie. Jamie rises to power based on the wealth of his diamonds and soon starts a company called Kruger-Brent. Second child of Jamie & Maggie, Kate does not get to know her father and brother as both are killed in South Africa’s slave uprising. Maggie runs the company with the able help of Jamie’s young deputy, David Blackwell.
As Kate grows up she falls in love with David and despite the age differences, she uses her power as the heir to a huge company to manipulate things in such a way that David stays with her and they finally marry. David dies in a mining accident before his son is born and Kate raises young Tony to take over the business – but the young man has other plans. Always shy & retiring in front of his mother, he loves the arts and wants to be an artist in Paris. However, Kate interferes by first arranging for a model to fall in love with Tony and then sabotaging his art carrier by buying a critic to write bad reviews on Tony’s paintings. Tony marries a young German woman, who dies on delivering twin baby girls and Tony finds out that Kate encouraged his wife to have the kids against doctor’s advise.
Tony snaps and shoots his mother but she doesn’t die while Tony is admitted to an asylum. Kate raises the twins, Eve & Alexandra but it turns out that Eve is a jealous, ambitious & selfish brat who wants everything for herself. She can’t even share things with Alexandra, who’s oblivious to Eve’s jealousy & hatred and worships her older twin. Ever sleeps around and has flings, lies and tries to get Alex killed a few times. When Kate finds out, she disinherits Eve. Eve meets George Mellis, an abusive, ambitious & sexually violent handsome Greek and sets him up Alexandra. The plan is to kill Alexandra and get all her family’s wealth for herself and then get rid of George. However complications with the Greek make her change her plans and she kills him instead. She is later punished by a doctor who blackmails her to marry him and though he loves her, he purposefully damages her face in a plastic surgery that was done to actually get ride of some of her wrinkles.
With Eve punished, we now come back to Alexandra. Distraught over the death of George, she seeks comfort from a shrink, Peter Templeton. He & Alexandra marry and have a son Robert, who at the time of Kate’s 90th birthday is only 8 years old. He wants to be a classical musician and as we end the novel we read that Kate is interfering with his life by saying that she will recommend him to a friend who happens to know famous music conductor Zubin Mehta. Kate still believes that she acted properly, even though everyone in her family has been negatively affected by her actions.