Sunday, October 12, 2014

Goodbye, Janette - Harold Robbins

With one leap, he caught her arm before she reached the door. He dragged her back into the room. "It seems to me, Janette, that you're acting like a baby. And you know what they do to babies when they don't behave? They get spanked!"

He sat down on a chair and pulled her across his lap face down. His hand rose and fell with an even rhythm. At first there was pain, then she felt a warmth spreading through her buttocks into her loins. Her cries began to turn to a soft moan.

Pocket Books

This dramatic little scene between father and step-daughter occurs early on in Goodbye, Janette. Published in 1981 it got a deserved spanking by critics but still managed to sell well. I ripped through it in one weekend and, while I can't say I didn't like it, I can tell you that if you're going to read only one Harold Robbins novel, this one isn't it.

The action mainly occurs in Paris and is drenched in Eurotrash bad behavior and overflowing with characters with deep pockets and shallow brains. Janette is the daughter of Tanya, a survivor of WW II prison camps. Tanya is brought to Paris by a kindly German officer named Wolfgang, who is jettisoned from the novel rather quickly. In his place is the cad Maurice, who marries Tanya as a business arrangement of sorts. Right off the bat we can see that Maurice is a dick. And so can Tanya. But then she gets a glimpse his certain special (humongous) endowment and goes weak in the knees in expectations. Maurice, in addition to being a cad, is also bi-sexual. And he gets off on sadomasochism.

In addition to having Tanya to get freaky with, Maurice also has Tanya's daughter, Janette, to molest. It's not really clear who Janette's father is, or I missed that part in the beginning of the novel. Anyway, Janette grows up into a sullen teen who shares a twisted relationship with Maurice that eventually results in her becoming a sex slave to him and his transvestite boyfriend, Jerry.

He smiled, "Remember, Janette, without pain there is no pleasure." He put his hands under her buttocks and raised her toward him. 

Janette grows into a beautiful woman, and something of a ruthless headcase, thanks to her messed up childhood. Tanya leaves the novel in a failed attempt at killing Maurice. But before she departs, she gives Janette a younger sister, Lauren. Lauren is saved from the sexual abuse by Maurice by getting to live in America with Johan, Wolfgang's old business partner. Janette, meanwhile takes over control of various business interests involving cosmetics and fashion.

There is a lot of financial skulduggery and kinky sex talk that move the novel along, but none of it particularly interesting. Okay, maybe there are a few lines I might try out the next time I'm at a swingers party, but other than that, not much worth noting. Janette isn't a compelling enough character to make you really care what happens to her. Instead one reads the book mostly to see if Robbins is going to throw more crazy sex stuff into the game like he did in the first sections of the novel. Lauren returns to Paris to visit her big sister Janette, and gets involved with a creepy English fop in a doomed relationship. She also wows the fashion world, but decides that she's not interested in making tons of money like Janette. Instead she'd rather get high on the various recipes of weed her California boyfriend perfects.

All in all, it's rich people living life without consequence, looking for their next high, their next screw or their next conquest. And in the end, it's Harold Robbins looking for his next buck. That said, I did very much enjoy Joe Kenney's take on this novel at his terrific blog, which you can also check out here.

4 comments:

  1. Kurt, really enjoyed your thoughts on this bizarre "masterpiece." Also, thanks a lot for the link to my blog. Here's an odd thing -- whenever I check my blog's stats, nine times out of ten someone is viewing my review for this novel. Either that or the review for "The Betsy," which sometimes gets viewed several times a day. So Robbins apparently still has his fans out there.

    My favorite Robbins by far is still "Dreams Die First," but I have a suspicion "The Piranhas" might be up there as well; it was supposedly the last novel Robbins wrote by himself, and it sounds to be as weird as "Dreams Die First."

    Also really enjoyed your "Lonely Lady" review -- Martin Boucher, of the Sleaze Factor blog, ranks that one highly, but I've yet to get around to reading it. Sadly, the last "Robbins" novel I read was "The Stallion," which it seems was actually written by his wife, Jan, and it SUCKED! Stay away from that one.

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    1. Hi Joe, thanks for the comment. That's pretty funny that people would view this novel as often as they do on your blog. I definitely know that one or two of those views are mine. I liked Dreams Die First also, but a little less than Lonely Lady, but a lot better than Janette. I will say that old Maurice making Janette walk around in her undies before spanking her was kind of hot in a dirty-old-man sort of way. Nothing like a good spanking scene in a novel! If you ever read any Dan J. Marlowe novels you'll find probably a spanking scene somewhere in each book of his. He had a thing for that. Thanks for the tip on Piranhas. I'll take a look at that one. Hey also, thanks for introducing me to Herbert Kastle's novels. I recently ordered Ladies of the Valley, Ellie and The Movie Maker. I'm looking forward to reading them.

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    2. Kurt,

      I just happened to read this again and saw my comment -- no idea why I wrote "Dreams Die First" as being my favorite HR book. It's actually "Descent From Xanadu." That one is "by far" my favorite -- what likely happened is I typed "Dreams Die First" back then without realizing it. If I'd recommend you check out any other Robbins book, that would be it. I just finished reading The Storyteller, published after Xanadu, but there isn't much to recommend it. I'll try to demonstrate why in my eventual review.

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  2. Great review I love this book.

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