Monday, November 29, 2010

Scruples book discussion!

Leave your comments in the comments!


Alicia K. said...

Well, let me just say that I totally get now why my mom let me read her Danielle Steel books, and not Judith Krantz! Danielle Steel's sex scenes were few and they were discreet, but the first sex scene here comes on page 36 and features a fairly descriptive blow job. So right away, the readers know they're in for something . . . special. Krantz's descriptions are hilarious--I especially liked that Billy has "hair so brown it looked like black licked by moonlight."

This is aspirational fiction at its finest--it's mostly all about sex and fashion, and what you can do with lots and lots and lots of money. There's crazy name-dropping of brands and celebrities starting from page 1 (and even though this book was written in the very late 70s, many of those names are still dropped today).

Speaking of names: Billy, Spider, Valentine, Muffie . . . I don't even remember who Muffie was, I just wrote her name down (and actually, I went to private school with a girl called Muffy, so Krantz is really nailing this ethos).

I do like the structure of the book--how it flashes back and forth in time--so at the beginning we know there's this rich lady with an awesome store and an Oscar on the line, and then it tells us how she got there. (Though the scenes with the Oscar nominations late in the book are some of the silliest things I've ever read.)

One thing I very much didn't like about this book is how it's presented as like, romantic, to look 5 1/2 pounds every week, and that being "comfortably full" is a bad thing. That is an atrocious message to be sending to younger readers (and frankly, to grown-up ones too). I did like Billy coming into her own in France, but the way it happened kind of pissed me off.

And everyone falling in love in a day is kind of silly too--except Spider and Valentine, and that somehow managed to feel silly too, even though Krantz did sort of build up to it.

But the high praise for Jewish men amused the hell out of me, as did the International Network of Lesbians, which sounds like a great kind of conspiracy.

But mainly this book is about sex and fashion, and the sex scenes were CRAZY. Dude, homosexual encounters in bathrooms? References to glory holes?? Was that common in the 70s? I was pretty surprised to see that in a book!

What were your favorite sex scenes? I kind of like the one with the male nurse (and then the dr's pleased reaction that Billy was glowing and must be getting some!). What name-drop was your favorite? Do you love the glamourous world of these fashionistas? I must admit that the end made me want to know what would happen next! Where can they possibly go from here?

Christina said...

Awesome! I will definitely have to thumb back through to remember my favorite name drops, but the whole Vito thing was just crazy to me! I think the pilot sex at the beginning was my fave, too. I loved the stuff with the TV presenter & Vito, too!

I love how they all fall deeply in love in one day. And then they fall out of love just as quickly.

I agree with you about the Billy Paris stuff, but it was the 80's, and at least they mention her exercising a lot in addition to not indulging much in food.

I love all of the French cliche stuff with Valentine, too. The Edith Piaf and the fancy cigarettes.

All of the fashion stuff is so great. Billy's clothes, and Valentine's designs, and the descriptions of Scruples. That's what makes this book so much fun in addition to the ridiculous yet ridiculously hot sex scenes.

I thought you would like the Jewish stuff, too! It's so great and funny!

Alicia K. said...

Oh my gosh, yes Valentine is such a French fashion chick stereotype! I didn't even really notice that while reading but now that you point it out . . . haha!

I did love all of the praising of Jewish men, but I wanted more cool Jewish women! What's-her-face, the tv report who changed her name to like Mandy McGregor, is the only one, and she loses her man to Billy. But she is pretty sassy and smart, so that counts for something. And I kind of wished I had Spider telling me what clothes looked nice on me like she did!

Christina said...

I know, that's the one thing I wish I had for sure!! I love how he just magically knows! I would love couture clothes of any kind, though. To just go and have people dress you would be the best thing ever.

Christina said...

I was trying to think of what else we should talk about. I often wonder what makes this particular book more compelling than so many similar romance novels that covered the same ground. The story is certainly compelling, and I think Billy is easy to root for, but is there more?

Another phrase I thought of that I love: "secret lushness of flesh." Like she is very skinny in clothes, but has big boobs & thighs when she is naked. How is that possible?! haha!

Alicia K. said...

I think in the book she's like a size 6/8--I'm not sure how that translates to 1970s sizes (she is definitely supposed to be very thin) but it might leave a little room for curves. :)

One thing I was thinking about is that, like, I wouldn't really want to BE any of these characters--but yeah, I wouldn't mind shopping at their store. :)

Christina said...

No, their lives are way too glamourous, but perhaps that is the charm of reading about it? I think this series is the very reason why I don't watch reality television. I want my TV & movies to be like this - completely unrealistic, but the characters still have something relatable so you don't just blindly loathe them.

Sort of like the appeal of the royal wedding!

Alicia K. said...

Another thing Krantz does to maybe make it more relatable is that, even though she name-drops designers like whoa, she never really describes the clothes they wear in great detail--just that they're chic or timeless or whatever--which is great, b/c think about the terrible clothes that were fashionable then! So this way, it's not as dated, and we can project our own fashion choices onto the characters.

And you're right--even though these lives are so crazy and almost unrealistic and dramatic--there is enough to like in the characters. Like I felt bad when Valentine fell for a gay guy! And admired Billy's independence.