April 29, 1994 at 04:00 AM EDT

The final book of the Scruples trilogy, Lovers is a kinder, gentler blockbuster. The Krantz trademarks — fabulous jewels, fabulous clothes, fabulous houses, fabulous sex — are still in evidence, although the shine seems to have dulled. They’re just not as much fun anymore — not for the characters, and not for the readers, either. Family values have sneaked in: Billy Ikehorn, heroine and retail czar extraordinaire, is married — with twins, for God’s sake — and Sasha Nevsky, Great Slut of Scruples Two, also has a child. The book opens when Gigi, Billy’s stepdaughter and the star of the novel, takes a job with an ad agency run by two attractive bachelors and a frigid, hostile, beautiful woman — a promising start, particularly when you throw in an enormously rich, gorgeous client and Gigi’s breakup with her amazing director boyfriend (no one in a Judith Krantz novel is described in anything less than superlatives). However, after some typical Krantzian foibles in which Gigi triumphs over her nemesis (the woman agency owner), seduces every male within sight, and spends a great deal of time in Venice, the story suddenly turns saccharine. There’s no real climax: The nemesis gets shipped off to Tokyo and just disappears; Billy’s marriage, which has been in some trouble, gets saved; Vito, Gigi’s father, gets married too; and then, to top it all off, Gigi gets engaged. The book may still be a bit racy for the conservative right, but the ’90s home-and-hearth ethos has taken its toll. Krantz seems to have traded in her diamond tiara for a sunbonnet, and it just doesn’t sit as well on her head.


Judith Krantz
Complete Coverage

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