The Beauty Makers by N.B. Lamont was first published as a Cassell hardback in 1958, then reprinted in paperback in 1959 and 1961 (Panther edition shown here). The book is an intimate portrait of the fictional House of Vermeyer - a globe-spanning manufacturer of luxurious cosmetics.
There are two major plot-threads to The Beauty Maker.
The first, and most predictable, is the developing relationship between Paul Vandenberg, the company's new president, and Sigrid "Ziggie" Anderson, the private secretary of one of his vice-presidents. The two engage in a torrid 'will-they/won't-they' flirtation that eventually culminates in a surprisingly well-grounded relationship and unsurprisingly tragic ending.
The second plot that runs through the book involves Vandenberg's relationship with the House of Vermeyer as a whole.
A ruthless businessman - a fore-runner to day's generation of efficiency consultants - Vandenberg encounters resistance from every nook and cranny of the ponderous Vermeyer corporation. The company's 'face' and head of training, Gloria Vernon, resents Vandenberg for replacing her dead lover. The powerful, entrenched VP, Harry Sarnoff, refuses to relinquish the tiniest piece of his authority. Even the lead chemist, brewing the latest nail polish, worries that Vanderberg is 'out to get him'.
Vandenberg, although accomplished, moves through his work with Zenlike focus. He's dying of some mysterious heart/ulcer/stress ailment, which, combined with a natural distaste for 'clutter', has driven him to do everything as swiftly and efficiently as possible. Despite the fifty years since The Beauty Makers' publication, many of the office scenes are still relevant today. With its introduction to focus groups, product recalls, advertising campaigns and branded content, the book does a surprisingly solid job of providing marketing fundamentals that are still in use today.