Scruples: A novel about folks without them

Judith Krantz’s novel Scruples is an immorality tale about the sex lives of the super rich and the sycophants who use them.

All-text cover with Krantz'a name in large red type, Scruples in white handwritten type, all on black backround.
Scruples’ content is about as original as its cover.

“Billy” Ikehorn, one of the Boston Winthrop’s poor relations, blossoms into a glamorous, sexy woman during a year in Paris.

A year’s study at Katherine Gibbs lands her a secretarial job at Ikehorn Industries and marriage at age 21 to multimillionnaire Ellis Ikehorn, nearly 40 years her senior.

After his death, Billy is no longer the center of anyone’s world.

To compensate, she builds Scruples, a store where the super-rich can get anything they want and nothing they need.

Billy knows zilch about retailing.

Within six months, the store is already failing.

Billy is tricked into hiring a dress designer and photographer, both talented unknowns, to turn things around.

By contrast to Billy, who is just another self-centered rich girl with a father fixation, the characters in the supporting roles are complex personalities with jobs more interesting than anything in the plot.

Krantz has each of the main characters’ lives turn out right—financially and sexually— in the end.

Krantz writes well enough to be a commercial success, but Scruples is a waste of her talent.

Scruples is drivel.

Scruples by Judith Krantz
Crown, ©1978 [Book Club ed]. 478 p.
1978 bestseller #5. My grade: C

©2018 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Saratoga Trunk side-steps great story for mere diversion

Edna Ferber’s Saratoga Trunk holds the germ of a great novel for another author to write.

The novel opens with a a press conference. “Colonel” Clint Maroon wants to tell how industrialists ripped off America. As his wife predicted, reporters won’t listen.

The rest of the novel is a flashback to how Clint and Clio Dulaine met in New Orleans, fell in love, and decided to pool their resources to get rich quick.

Clio sent Clint off to Saratoga Springs, New York,  posing as an authority on railroads to set up a scam among the millionnaires. She followed posing as a widowed French countess.

Clio’s scam might have worked, except that Clint found his Texas intimidation skills an easier avenue to big money than playing poker.

Saratoga Trunk is a real page turner. Ferber’s narrative has more bubble and vitality than Saratoga water. Even its historical characters are all larger than life. Saratoga Springs itself sparkles as the American playground of the rich and famous in the 1870s.

But the real story—the one Clint wanted to tell—gets shunted aside. Taylor Caldwell would have made a good novel from this material. Edna Ferber merely made an entertaining one.

Saratoga Trunk
by Edna Ferber
Doubleday, Doran
1941 bestseller #9
My grade: C+
©2011 Linda Gorton Aragoni