Picks and Pans Review: Till We Meet Again
Reviewers tend to get crochety and snide when it comes to the Judith Krantz oeuvre. Her books are irredeemably silly. They are (probably) also harmless—and if that sounds like praising with faint damns, so be it. Till We Meet Again focuses on a beautiful, talented, unconventional, strong-minded woman and her two similarly adjectived daughters. First there is Eve de Lancel, née Coudert (where does Krantz get these names?), the daughter of an eminent, oh-so-bourgeois Dijon doctor. Eve has curly hair that "was an inimitable color, a valuable color that would not fade like that of most redheads or grow dull like a brunette's.... And her eyes! Their darkness was like charcoal on fire." But Eve doesn't have only gorgeous hair and glowing eyes; she has big dreams. Rather than make the socially irreproachable marriage her parents envision, Eve runs off to Paris with a music hall singer and soon after becomes a très big-deal chanteuse, the toast of tout Paris. World War I intervenes, and Eve, none too devoted to her singing career, marries handsome diplomat Paul de Lancel, who proposes during their first dinner engagement. Their daughter Delphine becomes a très big-deal film star, and other daughter Freddy, actually Marie-Frèdèrique, becomes a très big-deal aviatrix (she flies for Great Britain during World War II and founds an air freight service). Krantz is very fond of the history-repeats-itself scenario. So Freddy, who had "eyes she had no idea were of a blue so saturated with color that they seemed locked into the sky," runs away from home just as her mother did and moves in with an older man just as her mother did. And men propose as quickly to Freddy as they did to her mother—which is to say on the first date. While the book focuses on Delphine and Freddy, there is also a plot turn concerning their handsome, clever and corrupt half-brother Bruno ("Degradation was his hobby") de Lancel, who at book's end gets just what he deserves. As for what readers of Till We Meet Again get, it's probably just what they deserve too. They get several love scenes spread calculatingly through the book. They get many descriptions of beautiful women. They get fed Grade B movie foolishness by the yard: "She made every day seem like the Fourth of July," says one of the many men caught by Freddy's redheaded charms. "One gorgeous burst of fireworks after another. God, but I like a difficult bitch. Every great broad I've ever met was a difficult bitch—and Freddy made them all look like they were bucking for sainthood." All of which explains why it is difficult not to get crotchety and snide when it comes to the Judith Krantz ouevre. (Crown, $19.95)
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