We got word over the weekend that Judith Krantz — author of Scruples, among many many other dishy reads — has, at 91, headed off to her next glamorous adventure. (That obituary taught me that she didn’t publish her first book until she was 50! She also, as you can tell from her photo here, loved a good cuff bracelet.) Scruples is one of my very favorite so-called “guilty pleasure” books — I actually don’t believe you should ever feel guilty about the book you’re reading, unless you stole it — and it is truly one of the most perfect poolside books ever written. (For what it’s worth, Scruples II is a worthy sequel.) I’ve written about Krantz a lot over the years, and as I’ve mentioned before, one of my favorite things about her books is that the heroines always have interesting jobs at which they are highly skilled. Yes, there are loads of hot, rich men being sexy, and also avalanches of painstakingly described 80s outfits (someone is always wearing a suede jumpsuit), but Krantz’s books also always had a healthy dash of competence porn — whether your protagonist was essentially inventing Giorgio (the store, not the perfume), or if she was fighting the Nazis. (Krantz’s own biography, Sex and Shopping, it goes without saying, also has a very skilled heroine at its center.) They are books that go down easily — virtually made to be tucked into your beach bag and taken to the pool or the park or wherever you like to go roll around and read while it’s hot outside — but they were never dumb, and never thought you were dumb for reading them, either. In short, we have lost the high priestess of the genre, and I ask you to please join me in raising a mimosa on this Monday to the indomitable Ms. Krantz.
While we’re here, it seems to me we should discuss the perfect beach read — or, what our friend Morgan calls the “airport fiction,” i.e., something diverting enough to distract you from the fact that you’re hurtling through the air in a metal tube. Scruples is my number one in this genre. What’s yours?