Picks and Pans Review: Regrets Only

updated 08/18/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/18/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Sally Quinn

The fictional Washington, D.C., in this first novel by a former Washington Post feature writer, is as decadent as the court of Louis XV. The first 50 pages are devoted to the kind of power-manipulating party anyone in his right mind would avoid. After that the rambling plot is an embarrassment. A female journalist, who may remind some readers of beautiful, blond Sally Quinn, falls in love with the D.C. editor of a newsmagazine. Their sex is top quality, but they are competitors, and he falls for the flirting, man-pleasing wife of the U.S. Vice-President (who eventually becomes President). Another leading character is a Washington hostess named Lorraine. She is married to an ineffectual old fool who just provides plenty of bucks for her social climbing. Clearly, Quinn intends this book for female readers. An inordinate number of pages is spent on costumes, hairdos, makeup. There is even a long, technical dialogue on methods of contraception employed by the First Lady and her journalist lover. Quinn has in fact succeeded all too well in trivializing totally the lives of the people who inhabit Washington. (The author is, it should be noted, married to Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee.) The surprise is that a newspaperwoman with her reputation for sophistication, toughness and humor would want to write a trash novel for the Jackie Collins-Judith Krantz crowd. (Simon and Schuster, $18.95)

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