Simon & Schuster, £6.99, ISBN 978-1-47113-419-7
Contemporary Fiction, 2012 (Reissue)
The World is Full of Married Men was first published back in 1968 – it is Jackie Collins’s first published novel, in fact – and this edition is a mere reissue without any rewriting done. As a result, the story can seem quite quaint with references to telephones that are actually wired to the wall and the like. However, this story also shows one thing: married men hadn’t changed their game one bit when it comes to getting some extra outside their marriage, heh.
David Cooper is a 40-year old executive in the family advertising agency in London. He is married to Laura, but has long become so bored of her and their children that he makes it a point to amuse himself with the ambitious actresses and models that come to audition for ads at the agency. His most recent paramour is Claudia Parker, who only wants to be famous and has no problems playing the casting couch to get what she wants. Recently, David has become obsessed with her – he can’t bear the thought of her sleeping with other men, but she only laughs at his face when he wants some kind of exclusivity.
“You know, it’s amazing,” she said, “how very simple it is for married men to propose. I guess it’s an easy thing for them to say, because really they are all safe and secure, and they know can lay out this tasty bit of bait without a hope in hell of getting trapped themselves. Marry me, my darling, only don’t let my wife find out!”
Yes, Claudia has been around, and she knows the game very well. I can’t help but to adore this little tramp.
David can’t imagine his proper and rather frigid wife doing anything bad, like cheating on him. However, Linda has stumbled upon a young man who is very open about wanting to get with her. When she discovers David’s affair – and we all know it’s just a matter of time – what will she do? Meanwhile, will David’s obsession with Claudia get out of control? She really doesn’t want him as much as he wants her, and she’s in fact starting to realize that there’s no benefit for her career to keep seeing him. It’s all pretty funny actually.
The characters in The World is Full of Married Men are all stereotypes that I have come across many times before, but the fun thing here is the author’s lack of pulling punches when it comes to her utter disdain for her characters. The way she lays out how married men operate is something that one can come across in those self-help books about extra-curricular relationships with married people, but she does it without the tender loving care approach of shrinks. They’re assholes, she pretty much says up front, and they deserve to be stuck with fellow users like Claudia who’d give those assholes a run for their money until those assholes don’t know which way is up or down anymore. Indeed, while David treats Linda horribly, he gets run through the emasculation machine by the likes of Claudia and the rest, so there is a vicarious kind of joy in seeing him brought low. Linda gets a happy ending of sorts, but who cares about that boring brown cow? The fun is all about seeing Claudia get all wasted and yet still manages to make David look like an utter fool. She gets a happy ending of sorts too, how delightful, so David is the one left to twist in the wind. How delicious.
Mind you, this story is not exactly politically correct, but then again, does anyone read a book by Jackie Collins expecting political correctness? Her books won’t be as much fun as they are if the author goes all proper and serious on everybody.
The World is Full of Married Men isn’t deep or profound, but so what? It’s the perfect beach read – light wicked fun as long as it lasts, and easily forgotten soon after. The perfect calorie-free light reading, and, in many ways, a fabulous revenge fantasy tale if you’re in mood to see male assholes get their due.