Tackling the sequel to ‘70s classic SCRUPLES seemed the right decision last summer. Sun, surf, sex, plus a good trashy novel to boost—what more can a gay guy need? Besides, I’ve always wondered what the heck happened to all of those lovable characters Judith Krantz so stylishly put on paper that many years ago. Yeah, I know, the last time I talked about that book I put a gay mafia hit on it on account of its many homosexual gibes. But I have turned a new leaf since then. Call it maturing, call it not taking things so seriously, call it whatever you like, but something happened to me these last couple of months. Life seems less combative—which brings me back to SCRUPLES TWO (1993, Bantam). Well, not really. If I really wanted to enjoy that sequel I needed to go back to where it all started. So yes, I did re-read SCRUPLES and you know what? The gay thing in it wasn’t as intense as I remembered it to be. As a matter of fact, it was kind of tame and silly, and to be really honest, true to life in parts. But more importantly, I enjoyed the novel so much that I couldn’t wait to jump right into its sequel. By the way you’ll be glad to know that there are few gay-subtexts in this one except for the recurrence of a secondary character.
In fact, the whole gang is back: Billie, Valentine, Spider, even fucked up Melanie who makes a cameo. But there are new faces as well, most noticeably Gigi who is Vito’s teenage kid and who wins Billie’s heart even though Billie’s marriage to Vito is on the rocks. Yes, what you thought would be forever is actually over in less than fifty pages. Other worthy mentions: unsuspected deaths, unsuspected hook ups but most importantly unsuspected impressiveness at the narrative. I guess it shouldn’t have come as a surprise since Krantz has always been a solid writer. But just like her fictitious store, which takes a beating in SCRUPLES TWO only to be rejuvenated later on, I just wasn’t ready for the flowing and seduction of it all.
I wish I could say the same in regards to the overall story which despite some well-meaning plot twists often ends up verging on predictability. In fact, the whole kit and caboodle is kind of lame compared to its prequel. Oh, the author tries her best to put some spunk into her tale but the overall result just doesn’t cut it as much. Take Billie’s double-life in Paris, for example, it certainly was an interesting idea, especially the psychological aspect of it (you know, a woman hiding her true identity for the love of a man) but, again, I feel the author missed the mark in developing any kind of real depth behind the character’s motive, making Billie come across as an insecure, egocentric, whiny know-it-all instead of a fully-realized heroine. Yes, I am aware SCRUPLES TWO is light reading but if New-York Times best-selling author Elizabeth Gage can extend on the psyche of her characters and still be able to deliver the goods I’m sure others like Miss Krantz here can do so as well. Still, I say read SCRUPLES TWO, if you’re a fan of the first one. Just don’t expect to be wowed by it. I have no idea if I’ll ever pick up LOVERS, the next chapter in the SCRUPLES trilogy. If I ever do, you’ll be the first to know.
Until next post—Martin