Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Thursday Three

On this dreary Thursday, how about discussing...


Trashy Novels


Don't tell me you don't have a clue what I'm talking about. Don't even try. I'm on to all of you. There's almost nothing like a trashy novel, is there? Almost (but not quite) better than a chick flick. Having recently been sucked back into one the topic is fresh on my mind. (And now that I've finished it I can get on with my life).


I claim to not like romance novels of the bodice ripper variety, but at the base of it isn't that really what trashy novels are? The best ones, anyway. Oh, there's a lot of other stuff in there - greed, power, sex, money, lying, treachery, insider gossip, exotic locations - the entire trashy novel check-off list.

And I'm not talking totally sleazy here, either. None of that formulaic mumbo-jumbo. (Pick one from each category: Is your heroine orphaned, abused or simply penniless? Is her bosom heaving, glowing or straining? And the hero - is he virile, spoiled or self-made? Well? Plug in your answers and pop out a book).

My trashy novels at least have some substance. And if you believe that rationale - stick around. I've got a million more where that came from.



#1. Scruples, by Judith Krantz. This was one of the first to hook me and, coincidentally, the last. The first time was when I was a teenager and I was so hooked that I took it in the car and read it at stoplights. I was the driver, in case you were wondering. The last time was when I picked up a copy my mom has at the lake (after she had finished it, mind you) and started thumbing through it. That was pretty much it.


When we came home I still wasn't finished (damn kids and them wanting things like food, love and entertainment) so my mom said to take the book home with me. I said I was sure I had a copy at home somewhere and besides taking it home was giving it a little too much power, if you know what I mean. So I got home and couldn't find it anywhere. Tore the house apart. Twice. The punch line to not "letting the book call the shots"? After a couple of days of twitching, I actually went and took it out of the library, hoping to hell I didn't see anyone I knew and shielding it with a copy of Quantum MicroPhysics for Doctoral Candidates just in case.


My husband says I do my Thursday Three all wrong. He says that the best of the bunch should be #3, like in a Top Ten list and not #1 like I do it. I say if there's a clear cut winner you might as well put it out there right away. This isn't the Oscars, after all.

This book? Is a clear cut winner. An absolute classic of the genre, the stereotypical "page turner" if there ever was one. There are sequels, but don't bother. She takes a wonderful thing and jacks it up, all in the interest of selling more books. But Scruples? Too good to put down. I'm not even going to tell you what it's about. Just read it.




#2. Lace, by Shirley Conran. Oh, come on. You all know this one. Remember the tag line "Which one of you bitches is my mother?"
What? You don't? Have you never seen the campy '80s mini-series based on this book that set camp back decades? They rerun it often as an example of how not to make a mini-series. Made Rocky Horror look like a National Geographic documentary produced by the Vatican. The mini-series - not so hot. But the book is another story.

I seem to have a soft spot for the genre that follows a group of school friends through their lives to see what they make of it. To me this is one of the best of the bunch (although I also really like Rona Jaffe's Class Reunion).


Four girls (from, of course very different backgrounds) meet at an exclusive European boarding school and it all goes to hell in a handbasket from there. But it's an entertaining ride all the way.





#3. Rage of Angels, by Sidney Sheldon. I cannot tell you how this pains me to admit this, because I really think that Sidney Sheldon is a dreadful writer. Choppy, the master of half-finished sentences and pretty formulaic in his own way. And yet the man sucks me in more than I'd like.

But wait. It's worse. For me, this one is in hot competition with another of his books - If Tomorrow Comes - for my top three. So...he actually has two of my top four. Aargh. I am clearly beyond redemption.

This was also a mini-series (as was Scruples, now that I think about it), but as I never saw it I can't really trash it. (Man, they made a lot of trashy novels into mini-series in the '80s, didn't they?)

This one is about an idealistic young attorney who, without intending to, goes over to the dark side. Of course it's not that simple - these books never are.

Would we read them if they were?

Now...let's hear from everyone else...

16 comments:

Kaycie said...

Okay, I can't think of one trashy novel I've read. You don't believe me? Well, wait a minute, does Anita Shreve count?

ciara said...

i saw all the movies to these novels and scruples was the only one worth a damn lol bionic woman and barry bostwick were just too cute. and that wouldn't be their only movie together. anywhoo...can't say as i've read any one of those though.

Flowerpot said...

I remember Scruples and Lace - that was going back a bit wasn't it? There was one called Once is Not Enough by similar author. I tremember my dad throwing it on the floor saying, 'oh yes it is!'

Potty Mummy said...

Am in agreement with you RC that there is nothing better than a trashy read... After my degree in English Lit I vowed never to pick up a 'classic' again, and managed it for roughly 5 years. Bearing in mind I'm a bookworm, that's a lot of rubbish books to read.

I've forgotten most of them but I remember those you mention, along with another Krantz Klassic, 'I'll take Manhattan' or something. The next time you want to take a break from real life, that's a must-choose.

And of course, based on your formula for trash, you left out the great grandmummy of all trash / chick lit: Pride and Predjudice. I love it, and it IS a classic, but if it were written now I know where I would file it in the library - under T....

laurie said...

oh man we're not twins after all.... i just can't read this stuff. I'M SORRY!!! I'M THE DAUGHTER OF AN ENGLISH PROFESSOR!!! he didn't even let nancy drew in the house. i had to sneak it in and read it under the covers.

i did read "myra breckenridge" when i was 11 but i had no idea what was going on and so the whole sex-change thing was lost on me. a rather crucial part of the book.

i'm with kaycie--i've read a couple of anita shreve books, and they kinda count. the last one was awful--but riveting. and i think that's what you're talking about here.

Jen said...

Does Jean Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear series count? There's lots of prehistoric sex in them. Those are about the trashiest novels I've ever read. My secret love is sci-fi paperbacks. Almost as trashy and silly. Almost.

Diana said...

Knowing myself and my propensity for getting sucked into any book, especially trashy ones, I've steered clear of most trashy novels, although I did read "Flowers in the Attic" as a teen. My favorite, though, was an early 1960s book that I picked up at the beach called "When Doctors Marry" or something. It was so unbelievably badly written that it was a hoot. The plot was the trite (although I'm sure at the time very edgy) one of a beautiful, brilliant young FEMALE surgical intern falling against her will for another, more experienced surgeon. I do remember those (and other) miniseries of the 80s. My mother-in-law watched every one.

PixelPi said...

Oh no. I have to confess that I read absolute trash sometimes. Clan of the Cave Bear is a book I wish I could completely forget. Thanks, Jen. And the summer I finished grad school I did nothing but get the one and only tan of my life and read every Stephen King book, in order, all summer. And then there were those Highlander bodice-rippers by Diana Gabaldon (?) that had lots of heaving bosoms and strong arms, with the mandatory feeling his lips and man...oooops. Family site.

I am so ashamed.

Altaglow said...

I LOVE a trashy read. Olivia Goldsmith is one of my favorites--The first wives Club and Flavor of the Month are two of her books that come to mind.

Thalia's Child said...

Ooh, I love trashy romance novels. I used to use them to decompress after the really heavy lit courses I had to take in Uni for my degree.

I may just have to do a 'my favourite trash' list too. (I'm pretty sure I've ready Lace. I just don't really remember much of it)

Akelamalu said...

I love Sidney Sheldon books! My favourite trashy novels are ALL Martina Cole's. I've never heard of Lace and Scruples but I may look out for them now. On our local market there's a second hand book stall with all the books separated into sections - one of the sections is BODICE RIPPERS!

Sweet Irene said...

I don't think I read trashy books, not on purpose anyway. I am not even going to call them novels, as they don't really deserve that name, do they? You'd have to agree with that. When I was young, however, I read some books that I would now probably consider unreadable, but I write that up to ignorance and supermarket check out stand opportunism. What did I know, after all? Now I don't have the patience for them. Their is so much good stuff to read and so little time to do it in! I am running way behind on what I have left to read and new stuff is added every year.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

Alright, alright. I'll take my lowest number of comments in a while and assume that you guys are (mostly) not trashy novel readers. You don't know what you're missing,ladies.

But for those of you who fess up to not only doing it but liking it...thanks for the company!

PixelPi said...

Oh, I read plenty of trash, RC. Sometimes it's just the only thing that will take me away. Calgon just doesn't work for me.

ciara said...

i like lavyrle spencer...but i'm not sure if she's that trashy. but johanna lindsey, now that is one of those bodice rippers lol

Jo Beaufoix said...

Hmmm, does Virginia Andrews count? I read all of hers when I was a teenager. And Catherine Cookson, which are kind of dull and formulaic.
I think I may have read some Krantz too but I can't think what.