Fine Things is a Danielle Steel novel that takes readers inside the lives of the rich and famous to the depth of about two centimeters to show that they, too, suffer.
In Fine Things the sufferer is Bernie Fine. An only child, Bernie suffers from a Scarsdale upbringing, a stereotypical Jewish mother, and being denied the opportunity to teach Russian literature in a New England prep school.
Bernie accidentally discovers a gift for retailing, rising to be VP of an upscale department store chain at age 31.
Sent to San Francisco to open a new store, Bernie longs for New York.
An accidental meeting with a precocious five-year-old who wandered from her mother in the store leads Bernie to the altar. He falls in love first with Jane and then with her divorced, middle-class mother, who teaches second grade.
In less than three years from first their meeting, Liz is dead from cancer, Bernie has their son and her daughter to raise, and he’s still working 10 hours a day, six days a week at Wolff’s ‘Frisco store.
As recompense for his suffering, Steel gives Bernie a Mary-Poppins-lookalike nanny and a gorgeous, wealthy, child-loving second wife, and even enables him to enjoy California.
Judith Krantz’s novel Scruples is an immorality tale about the sex lives of the super rich and the sycophants who use them.
“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.