Dazzle by Judith Krantz (1990)
t the top of her game as a chronicler of delirious ’80s consumerism, the author of “Scruples” set this novel in an idealized Orange County of cowboys and endless grasslands. Its heroine, Jazz Kulkillen, is a world-famous photographer and Spanish land-grant heiress to a 100-square-mile cattle ranch in South County that her scheming stepsisters want to sell off to Hong Kong developers. Sure, it’s escapist fare, but Krantz was inspired by real-life events. “I knew, having visited the mission in San Juan Capistrano and the backcountry, how beautiful Orange County had been, and I knew how fast progress was coming,” she told the Los Angeles Times.
POSTSCRIPT Krantz is ripe for a revival. “Recently, I read ‘Scruples’ again, and I feel quite confident in saying it is amazing,” opined a reviewer on the feminist website Jezebel a few years back. “It’s not only sexy, smart, and funny, it’s a snapshot of a certain era in American history.”