Being a proud and longtime escapist fiction bookworm, I’ve come to realize that the trashy novel has three sub-genres. There’s the first, the all the way trash-fest where the author goes from point A to point B without any real fanfares (anything from the Zebra and Leisure lines during the ‘80’s fits the bill). Then there’s the better-structured trash, with sleazy plots galore but done with stronger narratives and fun situations (anything by Collins, Susann, Hirschfeld, Kastle). Then there’s the class-act trash where it’s all big and bold, from the narrative to the plot structure to the multi-layered characterization. Judith Krantz, Jacqueline Briskin, Michael French, Dominick Dunne deserve this spot. So does Davidyne Saxon Mayleas. Her DARLING, NO REGRETS is by far her strongest book. It’s her first as well. Published in 1981, it centers around a woman on the rise, sort of like the heroine of Krantz’s SCRUPLES, who suffers greatly in the name of love. Self love, that is; even though the world is her oyster.
I know what you may be thinking, and don’t worry, this is not “The More You Know” type of a book. The psychological depth is done to a minimum, just enough to flesh out the main character. Which is the strongest part of DARLING, NO REGRETS, the way the author succeeds in rendering her heroine authentic albeit the superficiality of her surroundings. Because in addition to her damsel in distress attitude, Franciejean has many flaws, one of them being unable to stay faithful to her man. Yes, you’ve read right. Finally a woman who cheats. One who’s also tenderhearted, fragile, business savvy, sometimes defeatist, but stronger than she thinks she is.