Satisfaction Analysis

Satisfaction (Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

December, Katie Lee, Rosaline, and Marinda are four coeds, class of 1976, for whom college, even the Ivy League, is only incidental to their more pressing concerns with careers and men. December is wild and gorgeous; Rosaline is blue-blooded and shy; Katie Lee is all business; Marinda is vulnerable and obsessive.

The story reads like a high-school student’s daydream of Ivy League coeds -- some exorbitantly rich, some sophisticated and ruthless, all dating smooth Harvard men, and all eventually moving effortlessly into high-powered, glamorous careers. These women seem to have been totally unaffected by the radical 1960’s, or even the self-analytical 1970’s. As December recalls, “The weekend of Woodstock she and her friends had been working on their tans and gossiping about tryouts for the junior varsity cheerleading squad.”

A handsome, Harvard-educated cowboy is the main male character, and he is drawn like a bee from one fair flower to another. Over the years, however, the heroines have several marriages among them, as well as torrid affairs with scores of great-looking men. They also manage to achieve success in their respective careers: the hotel business, the law, breeding racehorses, film stardom. They are all daughters of famous men, and this, interestingly, has to some degree seemingly programmed them all for failure of one kind or another. At the novel’s resolution, the only satisfied characters are those who have found true love.

About halfway through the novel, some of the characters seem to develop a sense of humor, and the reading becomes quite enjoyable. Unlike Mary McCarthy’s THE GROUP, however, to which it has been compared, SATISFACTION fails to establish satirical distance. With its cardboard glamour and endless, insatiable struggles for love and power, Rae Lawrence’s novel is really more like something by Judith Krantz.