RIP, Jackie: “tasteless and flashy” to the end!


We’re not supposed to speak ill of the dead – so here goes! I gave up on Jackie Collins many books back. Yes, her Hollywood novels are glamorous and gossipy, like the film and pop ‘fanzines’ whose style she writes in, but the formula became very repetitious. And this one is no exception. We’re not told how old Lucky Santangelo now is, the ruthless hotel and film studio mogul who is also the insatiable wife of comedian Lennie Golden and matriarch to a brood of gorgeous but dysfunctional children, now grown, who variously model, act, sing or run nightclubs. As always, there’s lots of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. One of her characters uses “amazeballs” as a superlative, an adjective I’d only previously heard on TV’s Miranda show. Everyone else uses the f-word, of course, excessively. “Tasteless and flashy” is how one bitchy character describes Lucky to her husband. There’s no arguing with that.
Again as before, there’s a vengeful psycho stalking Lucky’s family and friends. This one, topically, is the ruler of an imaginary Arab state called Akramshar. His name is King Emir Amin Jordan – shouldn’t that be al-Jordan? And how did her editors let ludicrous King Emir get into print?
RIP Jackie: will she write from beyond the grave?

Ms Collins writes her own kind of prose, which almost defies criticism. An undercover cop “was Puerto Rican and verging on pretty, in a tough ‘don’t fuck with me’ kind of way.” The bar on this sort of writing has been lowered rather than raised by la Collins during her long reign as the Queen of Hollywood fiction. She was famous for her raunchy sex scenes, all written with sledgehammer subtlety in fifty shades of scarlet and often unintentionally (or intentionally?) comic: “Men got off on her nipples; in full bloom, they were quite spectacular.

Harold Robbins, without any grand aspirations, was a much better writer: The Carpetbaggers and The Adventurers had all the greed and gossip of a Collins novel, but his style had a kind of Mickey Spillane crispness and grandeur. Jackie Collins occasionally reaches for crisp but she cannot (couldn’t) do grand.

Billed as ‘The Final Chapter’ in the life of Lucky Santegelo, this ninth instalment may not be the last. Harold Robbins carried on writing from beyond the grave, and so too may Jackie Collins. There’s gold in them thar cemeteries.

The fabulous Collins sisters – only Joan is left now

Two weeks ago I reviewed a Southern Gothic thriller that was one of the best books I’ve read in the last few months. The Santangelos is far and away one of the worst: scrappily plotted, poorly written and under-edited. Total tosh, in fact, but – although I skimmed through chunks of it – I had to read through to the end! Jackie Collins had her own kind of magic: RIP.

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