Scandal, sleaze and showbiz (4 stars)
Source- personal copy
Published May 2004, by Pocket Books
Paperback edition- 503 pages
So, I finally finished Moby Dick. Upon finishing it (after I put it in the bag to go to the charity shop, that is), I immediately sought out something slightly less taxing on my poor, fizzled brain- a book that I could read for nothing other than pure, unadulterated pleasure. I made a slight error in picking up Bill Bryson’s Made in America- good, but a bit too complex to suit my current needs- before finally settling on a trusty Jackie Collins novel.
Jackie Collins, for me, ticks so many boxes. Sinking into one of her novels is like reading an uber-decadent edition of the National Enquirer, only with much more depth (and sleaze). Could there be anything more perfect than curling up on the sofa and escaping into one of her reads on a cold, winter’s day? There’s also the added bonus that in reading about her “fictional” characters and their salacious behaviour, you wonder exactly which real celebrities she has based them on. I have my suspicions…
Hollywood Divorces follows the lives of three very different women. Talented British actress Shelby is married to Lincoln Blackwood, a mega-star in his own right, but also a man plagued by some very troubling demons. Upcoming young film director Cat may be a newbie to the movie scene, but she is determined to make her mark and that no one will tell her what to do. Lastly, there’s Latino lovely Lola Sanchez, a bombshell actress who is married to tennis-pro Matt Seel, yet is unable to shake off her addiction to her former bad boy fiancé Tony Alvarez, or her bitter determination to seek revenge against Lincoln Blackwood. As the lives of these three women collide, Hollywood may never be the same again…!
See, isn’t that just irresistible-sounding reading? Needless to say that I gobbled up every single juicy word and just whizzed through this book. The pace is fast, the characters well-developed and lots of little twists and turns ensure this is a riveting, atmospheric read. I enjoyed gaining an insight into both the movie and PR business via this novel- both of which seem pretty seedy but were fun to read about nonetheless.
I just loved the characters too. Some seem written for the sole purpose of being hated; I was looking forward to seeing them get their comeuppance. The female protagonists are all excellent, love them or loathe them- admittedly Cat and Shelby are nicer than the manipulative Lola, but I adore how Collin’s creates feisty, independent women in her books. They aren’t just recognised for their beauty, but also for their talent and Cat was a prime example of this. They are also given a lot of depth, which did make me contemplate some stars in Hollywood today and what really goes on behind their celebrity façade. Underneath the headlines, they are people too- not just tabloid fodder- and its easy to think that we know the real them, when we genuinely have no idea what makes them tick.
The story also shows the darker side to fame; when the adulation stops, what’s left? Lincoln has this problem when his wife’s career overshadows his own, and fuelled by jealous resentment and insecurities, breaks his own promises and turns back to alcohol and drugs, much to the disappointment of Shelby. Will he come to his senses, or will it be too late?
I’ve marked this book down one star, merely because Collins does seem to reinforce a lot of rather clichéd stereotypes in some of her characters. The novel was also a tad predictable in places and it had the typical ‘Happily Ever After,’ which given what had happened in the rest of the book was perhaps a tad too ‘nicey nicey’ for my tastes.
Nevertheless, I loved this tale of narcissistic and greedy people against such an interesting back-drop; it completely sucked me into their lives and makes some other books seem pretty dull in comparison. Sometimes graphic, occasionally crass, but always entertaining, if you are looking for scandal, sleaze and showbiz shenanigans then look no further than this escapist read.