Tuesday, 30 October 2012

DARLING, NO REGRETS by Davidyne Saxon Mayleas


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.
The story begins with Franciejean (that’s her name) arriving in New York City where she, like TVs Mary Richards, wants to make it after all. Problem is she barely has a plan, except using her little black book to phone past lovers. She eventually stays overnight with one, and the plot unravels from there. Indeed, from man to man and from job to job she climbs the ladder of success and finally finds love in Jamison Welsh, an international financier and famous economist. But her family skeletons eventually catch up with her, and what seems like such a privileged life soon becomes somewhat of a nightmare as she battles major inner demons.
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.
The narrative, while rich and sometimes poetic, is tight and  fast-paced, with a few typos and doubtful constructions here and there. But you just go over the line again and move on. And believe me, you’ll want to, for what happens to Franciejean will probably make you turn the pages even faster. I’m not giving anything away, but let’s just say that in DARLING, NO REGRETS rose-colored climaxes are far from being the author’s favorite cup of tea. This is a character study of a flawed woman whose past incidents have many consequences. It is as realistic a trashy novel can be, and I applaud the author for having had the guts to deliver this type of a gem. With all the novels going digital, I’m sure there’s a place for DARLING, NO REGRETS. There has to be. Are you reading this, ebook publishers?

Until next post—Martin

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