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

Hollywood Wives

A woman's ring is the only pictorial element on the cover of Hollywood Wives
That’s a woman’s ring over the Ls in Hollywood.

The women whose husbands rule 1980s Hollywood are the subject of Jackie Collins’s Hollywood Wives.

Some of the wives are powers behind their men’s thrones; other are just mindless bodies. Instead of being real people, the wives are graphic novel memes.

A newly-wed couple enter this sexually charged atmosphere. Buddy believes the myth of instant Hollywood fame and fortune. He’s ready to do whatever it takes to be a star.

Angel knows little of movies or stardom. She just wants to make a home with Buddy and their baby.

Wives comes very close to being an all-sex novel on the model of the worst of Harold Robbins and Judith Krantz.

We really didn’t need another novel proving other people’s sex lives are more exciting than our own.

Hollywood Wives is saved—barely—by a secondary story that’s more interesting than the wives.

A young man is driving across the country murdering women as he goes. The victims are mainly addicts and hookers whose disappearances cause scarcely a ripple.

The killer is being trailed by a cop obsessed with finding and stopping him—and with figuring out what set off his murder spree.

Collins finally ties the killer to the wives, but the damage is already done.

Hollywood Wives by Jackie Collins
Simon and Schuster. 1983. 510 p.
1983 bestseller #9. My grade: D

©2019 Linda G. Aragoni

The Lonely Lady is alliterative, not accurate

The title character of The Lonely Lady, JeriLee Randall, is a lady only for alliterative purposes.

closeup of a sexy blonde with half her face in shadow
She looks better than she is.

For all other purposes she’s, at best, a slut.

JeriLee is beautiful and brilliant, as are all Harold Robbins’ protagonists unless they are men, in which case they are handsome and brilliant.

JeriLee is a small town girl who wants to be a writer. She marries a writer. They divorce.

JeriLee lacks the business savvy and connections to make it as a writer on her own.

She falls back on acting, then on dancing, finally ends up in a nude review.

She drinks heavily and uses drugs. Although she’s not selling drugs, she gets caught when the guy with whom she’s living gets caught dealing.

She ends up in a mental institution, from which she’s rescued by the police detective who arrested her. Surprisingly, she neither marries him nor has sex with him.

What she does is write a screenplay that wins an Academy Award and lets a stoned JeriLee tell off the world as the TV cameras role.

Robbins is a great storyteller, but his stories aren’t worthy of his talent.

With Lady, as always with Robbins’ novels, I had forgotten the title character’s name within 15 minutes of laying down the book.

The Lonely Lady by Harold Robbins
Pocket Books ©1976 [paper] 421 p.
1976 bestseller #8. My grade: C+

© 2018 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Evening in Byzantium

Evening in Byzantium isn’t set in Byzantium.

a city by the sea that could be anywhere is image onon Evening In Byzantium
Cannes is not quite Byzantium.

That’s just the first of many intriguing and ultimately frustrating aspects of Irwin Shaw’s 1973 bestseller.

Jesse Craig, 48, a film producer who hasn’t produced anything in years, is in Cannes to pitch a film he’s written — if he can work up the courage.

He was successful early in his career, but the work he put in to create the success took its toll. Craig’s wife is divorcing him, he’s alienated from his daughters, and the pilgrims coming to Cannes worship money rather than honest storytelling.

A 20-year-old “journalist” chases Craig for an interview. She’s obviously motivated by something more than a byline, but Craig can’t figure out what.

At Cannes, Craig learns what he had feared: He may get a buyer for his script but he’ll never get an audience for his film. The world Craig knew is gone.

Craig returns to New York where he is almost immediately hospitalized for a month with a bleeding ulcer which his surgeon tells him is self-induced.

In Shaw’s pen, Craig comes across as a genuinely decent guy. He treats even people he dislikes politely, albeit coolly.

Nothing in the novel prepares readers for Craig’s hospitalization or for his behavior after release.

Evening in Byzantium by Irwin Shaw
Delacorte Press, 1973, 368 p.
1973 bestseller #7. My grade: B+

© 2018 Linda Gorton Aragoni