I read this book for the first time in my late teens, one of the many so-called ‘sex & shopping’ novels that were popular at the time, books by people like Jackie Collins and Shirley Conran. Actually, they may still be popular, but I stopped reading them in the 80s.
When I was an ‘innocent’ teenager, the sex in these books might have been the main attraction (there’s one scene in Scruples that has remained with me all these years and, when I re-read it recently, I was surprised to find that I’d lost none of its details), but it was the ‘shopping’ or rather the details of material objects, especially clothes, that was the true draw.
Despite the fact that the book was published in 1978 and set earlier, the outfits that are described don’t sound dated. Billy, the protagonist, sounds like she would still be on the best dressed list in the present decade like she was in the fictional 70s. However, if you watch the clips (on YouTube) of the 1980 TV adaptation starring Lindsay ‘The Bionic Woman’ Wagner, everything looks horribly, cringingly dated. Especially the big, permed hair.
When reading up on the book and its sequel (Scruples 2 reads like it was written in a hurry), I discovered that Natalie ‘Black Swan’ Portman co-produced a pilot for a new Scruples series in 2012, but ABC passed on it. From what I can tell, the storyline was tweaked quite a bit, but most of the main characters remain. Pity it never got off the ground.
What I really loved about Scruples when I first read it and found just as compelling when I re-read it was the description of Billy’s boutique, which the title refers to. Scruples is a shoppers’ paradise and has some of the features of some of my favourite stores, which I can’t afford to shop at but still love visiting for entertainment’s sake.