Till We Meet Again

An airplane rises against clouds that form the dust jacket background.Till We Meet Again is a predictable romance raised above the ordinary by Judith Krantz’s storytelling ability.

The novel is about three French women: Eve de Lancel and her two daughters, the dutiful and refined Delphine and the anything-but refined tomboy called Freddy.

As a teenager in 1913 Dijon, Eve is obsessed with popular music. She runs off to Paris with touring music hall singer Alain Marais.

When he abandons her, Eve becomes a singer, entertaining WWI troops always ending her performances with “Till We Meet Again.”

Post-war, she marries Vicomte Paul de Lancel, heir to a great Champagne winery and a career diplomat.

While they are stationed in Los Angeles, their daughters go rogue.

At 18, Delphine is starring in movies.

At 16, Freddy solos after secretly taking flying lessons she paid for by working at Woolworths.

The novel’s characters, while implausible as a set, seem reasonably plausible as individuals because Krantz adeptly changes focus before readers can study them a particular character too closely.

Krantz scatters her text with historical facts that help sustain the illusion of plausibility.

The novel’s ending, while too predictable, doesn’t feel pasted-on.

Till We Meet Again isn’t great literature, but it’s good popular fiction.

Till We Meet Again by Judith Krantz
Crown. ©1988. 534 p.
1988 bestseller #6; my grade: B

©2019 Linda G. Aragoni

I’ll Take Manhattan

 City skyline sparkles on front of “I'll Take Manhattan”
NYC glitters like pre-K art

I’ll Take Manhattan is a Judith Krantz novel about the lifestyles of rich and powerful paper dolls. Here her focus is the rich and powerful in the 1980s magazine industry.

Thrice married, high school dropout Maxi Amberville finds her role in life when she gets the opportunity to throw herself and her fortune into establishing a new magazine.

Like other Krantz female leads, Maxi is a self-absorbed female oozing sexuality.

Maxi has a bosom pal, a famous actress, who appears out of nowhere to allow Maxi to reveal her innermost thoughts, which are as deep as her outermost thoughts.

The story is told in flashbacks and “little did she know” anticipatory flashes. Amid the flashes, readers may not recall the past event to which the dramatic denouement refers.

The little interest there is in Manhattan is the topical references.

There are lots of jokes about last-century TV and movie stars, politicians, and news makers.

A few of the jokes are funny.

Donald Trump makes a cameo appearance in the novel, buying Maxi’s apartment in Trump Tower to help her out, and getting less for it when he unloads it than he paid Maxi.

Readers of I’ll Take Manhattan will fare no better than Trump.

I’ll Take Manhattan by Judith Krantz
Crown Publishers, ©1986. 437 p.
1986 bestseller #7; my grade: C-

©2019 Linda G. Aragoni

Author Judith Krantz dead

Judith Krantz, a familiar name on bestseller lists in the last third of the 20th century, died June 22 at her Los Angeles home, according to her publicist. She was 91.

Her bestsellers reviewed here at GreatPenformances are Scruples (1978), Princess Daisy (1980), and Mistral’s Daughter (1982). Reviews of her other novels slated in coming months are I’ll Take Manhattan (1986) to be reviewed August 31 and Till We Meet Again (1988) to be reviewed November 5.

Here’s a link to Krantz’s obituary in The Washington Post and another to her obituary on Deadline.

Mistral’s Daughter

The dust jacket of Mistral’s daughter features a red carnation on a bright pink background
A red carnation is Maggy’s signature

Judith Krantz gave the public what it wanted in 1982 with Mistral’s Daughter, which was promptly made into a TV miniseries for which the story is ideally suited.

The story begins when Maggy Lunel, illegitimate and orphaned, arrives in 1920’s Paris to make her fortune as an artist’s model.

Maggy Lunel becomes Julien Mistral’s model and mistress, the subject of his first successful paintings, then loses him after his first successful show.

Maggy becomes the mistress of an American who dies suddenly leaving their daughter, Teddy, for her to raise.

She goes to work, eventually opening a modeling agency.

On a photo shoot in France for Maggy’s agency, Teddy meets and falls for Mistral  and bears him daughter, Fauve.

When Teddy is accidentally killed, Mistral gives Fauve to Maggy to raise.

When Fauve is a teenager, Mistral invites her to spend summers in Provence.

Maggy can find no reason to refuse without telling Fauve about her own sexual relationship with Mistral.

Although it’s a page-turner, Mistral’s Daughter wouldn’t suffer if it had fewer pages.

The novel’s happy ending suggests all the wrong done by an artist is automatically cancelled by his art.

The popularity of that ethical assertion doesn’t make it true.

Mistral’s Daughter by Judith Krantz
Crown Publishers ©1982. 531 p.
1982 bestseller #5. My grade: C-

© 2019 Linda G. Aragoni

‘Princess Daisy’

From the cover of “Princess Daisy,” a silvery-blonde woman's black eyes hold the reader's eyes.
The princess has captivating eyes.

There’s enough raw material—I use the word raw advisedly—in Princess Daisy for a half dozen novels. Unfortunately, Judith Krantz put all of it in one seemingly interminable, disjointed novel.

“Daisy” Vanesky is the elder of twins. Her father, a Russian Prince, rejected her mentally retarded sister. When their mother dies, he places Dani in an institution in England.

At Vanesky’s death, the twins’ older half-brother, appropriately nicknamed Ram, is left to manage the investments Vanesky’s made on behalf of the twins and his mistress, Anabel de Fourment.

When Anabel learns Ram raped Daisy, she sends Daisy to California to attend college with a friend’s daughter.

The women’s investments fail.

Daisy gets work in production of TV commercials, drawing portraits of children on horses to weekends to earn money to pay for Dani’s care.

The real story of how Daisy becomes “Princess Daisy” is crammed into fewer than 100 pages.

Princess Daisy seems to have dozens of subplots, few of which are actually necessary and most of which aren’t particularly interesting.

At the end of a chapter of Princess Daisy, I’d check to see how many more pages I had to read. The answer was always, too many.

Princess Daisy by Judith Krantz
Crown Publishers. 1st ed. ©1980. 464 p.
1980 bestseller #4. My grade: C-

© 2019 Linda G. Aragoni

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