Helen Ellis, a transplanted Alabaman living in Manhattan, is the author of American Housewife, Southern Lady Code, and a new essay collection, Bring Your Baggage and Don't Pack Light. Below, she recommends six classic trashy novels for summer reading.
Wifey by Judy Blume (1978).
Are you there, adultery? It's me, a bored housewife. I don't know why Blume hasn't written more coming-of-middle-age novels. The woman knows how to describe a midnight pool party gourmet buffet and self-gratification in a motorcycle helmet on a suburban front lawn. Buy it here.
Little Sins by Meredith Rich (1985).
Boy meets girl meets girl, loses girls, gets girl. And they all live happily ever after. I don't know why Rich isn't as acclaimed as the likes of Judith Krantz and Jackie Collins. The woman knows how to describe the "pure Western hippie" chic of the 1970s and sex with your two best friends. Buy it here.
The Second Lady by Irving Wallace (1980).
What if the first lady really is a Russian spy? I don't know why Wallace's novel didn't resurface during the Melania Trump body-double rumors. The man knows what it takes for a woman to pass a wife look-alike contest (boob job, nose job, KGB job) and also how to seduce an American president. Buy it here.
Lace by Shirley Conran (1982).
Four grown-ass ladies have a reunion and are asked by a beautiful young Hollywood actress, "Which one of you b---hes is my mother?" I don't know why this line isn't as popular as "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." Conran also romanticizes sex with a goldfish. Buy it here.
Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon (1973).
A Manhattan couple moves to what I have always imagined Connecticut to be: cornfields and antique shops. I don't know why country widows aren't a more standard horror trope. This book is Fatal Attraction meets Midsommar — complete with a cute dead animal and a flower-crowned sex ritual. Buy it here.
The Love Machine by Jacqueline Susann (1969).
A network TV executive sleeps around. I don't know why this isn't as popular as Susann's Valley of the Dolls. It has the happiest ending I've ever read: The guy's wealthy mother lives out her final days under the care of a doting young male companion. Buy it here.
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