Monday, April 21, 2014

Hollywood Wives, by Jackie Collins

So this depression that I’m going through (because to name it is to claim it, and that’s what’s going on), comes in waves; it’s characterized by an inability to sleep, concentrate, and be enthusiastic about things, among other things.  So when looking for my latest read (because a girl can only watch so much Extreme Couponing before hating herself), I was looking for the equivalent of the train-wreck TV that I’ve been gorging on.  And that’s what led me to Hollywood Wives, by Jackie Collins.  I had first read it back when I was in early undergrad, and I remembered it as being a written version of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and I wasn’t wrong.  This book was exactly what I needed to read at the time.

If authors are encouraged to write what they know, then this book can stand as an example of how to do it.   Hollywood Wives is the story of multiple Hollywood types that intersect into a larger story in the end.  The characters range from a down and out actor and his farm-fresh bride, the wife of a (declining) Hollywood legend who is as unhappy in her marriage as her husband, an East-cost transplant who is trying not to get chewed-up in the West-coast rat race, and a Hollywood agent who is a major power-broker (think Ari Gold, but with a soul).  It’s really clear that Collins is plugged into the Hollywood life, because each of her characters rings true, and shades of them be seen on shows like RHOBH.

On a whole, I think it’s amazing that Collins was able to write such a complex novel (the narrative moves between the characters mentioned above, as well as some others), while making each passage engaging – the reader wants to know what will happen next and regrets each time the narrative shifts, but then hates to leave that character when the next narrative shift happens.

Now, this book has been around for a long time, and Collins has been writing for quite sometime too.  I have purposely avoided reading older reviews of this book, or about its history.  What I do know about Collins was gleaned from Entertainment Tonight or the Enquirer as a kid, so my memory may be at fault, and the source material may have be wrong.  But I do know that Collins is seen as something as a smut-peddler.  And I can see where that accusation came from; this book is full of sex, deceit, and gore.  But if you remove yourself from the history of how the book was received, if you evaluate it for what it is and not what people tell you it is, it’s a really good book; the characters are engaging, the plot moves quickly and it’s well thought-out and interesting, and the writing style is solid.  

So, final verdict?  Even with all the flack the book and author took because of the Puritan-society it was released into, I would recommend it.  It’s not going to be for everyone, but if you’re a fan of the RHOBH, or you enjoy a good beach-blanket read, then I’d say this book is for you.  I’d recommend this read to anyone who is not an avid reader, but it looking for a good book.

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