Lady Boss is a Jackie Collins novel about people you wouldn’t want to know doing things you’d rather not know about.
Don’t let the word lady in the title fool you. Lucky Santangelo, the novel’s main character, is no lady. She is a multimillionaire, a control freak, and, as many other characters observe, a bitch.
The story is this: Lucky’s husband is an actor under contract to Panther Studios. Lennie hates the scumbags who run the studio. Lucky’s solution is to buy the studio as a surprise for Lennie.
Then she goes undercover at the studio to find out what’s really going on there, disappearing for a month without telling Lennie even how to get in touch with her.
Lucky is appalled by the studio’s treatment of women as objects. Most of the studio’s income is from porn films that it ships abroad hidden among legitimate films. When she takes over, she’ll change everything.
When Lucky tells Lennie she bought the studio, Lennie feels insulted that his wife thinks he needs rescuing. That surprises Lucky.
Collins has the gall to say, “Ego was not [Lucky’s] thing.”
An Oakland, CA, bookstore owner sells a pre-release copy of The Seven Minutes to undercover cops who arrest him for selling pornography.
Shortly thereafter, a college boy from a good family confesses to rape and murder. He claims reading the French-printed copy of the novel, which was banned worldwide as pornographic and blasphemous, was behind his assault.
Fearing he’ll be left with thousands of unsaleable books, the publisher hires his friend Michael Barrett to defend the bookstore owner.
The District Attorney realizes that by prosecuting the case he can muster support for his planned run for Congress.
Despite its sexy topic (the banned novel relates a woman’s thoughts during seven minutes of sexual intercourse) I suspect many readers found The Seven Minutes over-hyped.
Although there is graphic sex in the novel—and some scuzzy lowlife characters—it’s a small portion of the page count.
The meat of the story is the exhausting legwork the defense slogs through to build its case.
Irving Wallace gives Barrett long passages to recite from cases and legal scholars. Unless Barrett has a photographic memory, the quotations not only interrupt the story flow, but are implausible.
If you’re interested in the censorship issues, I suggest you read The Seven Minutes once for the story, then go back to examine the legal arguments.
The Seven Minutes by Irving Wallace
Pocket Books, 1969. [paper] 630 p. 1969 bestseller #6. My grade: B.