The Lounge's incredible paperback rack seems to be spawning a rather impressive collection of Jacqueline Susann novels these days. Our next book discussion focuses on Susann's 1973 novel Once is Not Enough, in which our heroine, sheltered and virginal January Wayne, survives a near-fatal motorcycle accident, only to return to New York after three years of re-learning how to walk and talk in a Switzerland hospital, to discover that Mike, her beloved, down-on-his-luck father, has married the "sixth richest woman in the world," closet lesbian Dee Milford Granger, strictly for her money. While her stepmother Dee tries her darnedest to pimp her off on her sleazy cousin David Milford, January gets a glamor job at "Gloss" magazine, falls in love with a gruff author 47 years her senior and becomes a speed freak. Here is a small sample:

"That doesn't mean you have the right to run her life--to force her to date a man who obviously has other inclinations."

"Oh, good Lord. David told me that January was one of the most beautiful girls he had ever seen." She sighed. "Maybe I've tried too hard, because nothing seems to have worked. I planned that beautiful bedroom for January and she walked out on it. I had planned we'd all spend the holidays together in Palm Beach. I thought I'd send the plane for January and David and we'd have a family thing there on Thanksgiving. And then on Christmas I want to give a big ball, as I did a few years ago. Fly in someone like Peter Duchin. Invite Mayor Lindsay, Lenny, Rex...all the fun people. And I had hoped that January and David would announce their engagement by then--"

"That's all very nice," Mike said. "But maybe it's not what January wants."

"How can she know what she wants?" Dee's voice went cold. "She's got to be taught to want the right things."

"For three years she had to be taught just to walk and talk," Mike shouted. "From now on it's her ballgame."

Dee's eyes narrowed. "All right! Let her work at that dingy magazine. Let her live in that third-rate apartment house. I'm not going to try anymore. Why should I knock myself out when you're both such ingrates? Neither of you even knows how to enjoy the nice things in life. Let her freeze in New York this winter. I'm not going to beg her to come to Palm Beach."

"Maybe I won't go to Palm Beach either," Mike said.

OOH! Tension! If you enjoyed Valley of the Dolls, Ms. Susann's most famous work, you won't be able to put this book down. The cover claims that it is "a novel about love--every kind of love" (although, thankfully, the incest scene you fear is coming never materializes) and, while there are an inordinate number of rapes here, the drugged-out hippie orgy and descriptions of the early-1970s off-Broadway scene (where, apparently, actors all performed in the nude) more than make up for them. You'll even find yourself sort of caring about faded ex-movie queen Karla's tragic secret, the accident that changes everyone forever, and what finally becomes of poor, beleaguered January. Jackie Susann had a real knack for writing cornball dialogue, overwrought situations and hard-boiled characters and coming up with something really fun. The Velveteen Lounge salutes her for it. Let me know if you want to borrow either this book or Valley of the Dolls.

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