Dolly and Billy managed to have lunch together every day. Billy, who still counted, and always would, every calorie she put into her mouth, couldn't help but notice that Dolly . . . was eating a sandwich that combined slices of avocado with Russian dressing, piled on a layer of Brie, a layer of pastrami, and a layer of chopped liver, between two thick halves of a buttered, seeded roll, and on the side, potato salad with an order of extra mayonnaise.
"Damn," said Dolly . . . "we don't have time for another sandwich, do we?"
"Are you still hungry?" Billy asked in awe mingled with reproof.
-- Judith Krantz, Scruples
She devoured every word she read and was filled with an insatiable longing for more.
-- Grace Metalious, Peyton Place
Preceding chapters provide individual readings of five women's bestsellers. It is now time to suggest that there are patterns to be discerned in Gone with the Wind, Forever Amber, Peyton Place, Valley of the Dolls, and Scruples, patterns growing out of and speaking to specifically female fears and fantasies. What follows are a few generalizations about "the female"--as heroine, reader, and author--of five best-selling novels published in America between 1936 and 1978.
I am not the first to observe similarities in the novels under discussion here. In 1944, when Macmillan editor Harold Latham received a