I have accomplished many things in my life. Recently reading and finishing Hollywood Wives is one of them. It was like reading Ulysses. It was at times a difficult, feverish read and when I got to page 50 I wondered if I’d ever read another book again.
I blame lack of government spending on public libraries for Hollywood Wives coming into my life: running a book festival on little money means you have to be inventive. Everyone loves a book club. So me and a few work colleagues decided to host a book club with a difference: lets talk about the best worst reads we’ve ever had.
My favourite best worst read would probably be that glorious beast of gothic crazy, Flowers in the Attic. Incest, blonde children, four blonde children, a ridiculously large house, a convenient car accident that puts daddy out the picture, a family torn apart by money and secrets, evil grandparents, evil dying grandparents, a mother who can’t keep her promises, poisoning, kids forming strong bonds with rats, paper flower gardens, and an author who so easily explains away why a brother raping his sister is the sisters fault, is what makes this book an ideal page turner full of comedy gold. I’m not being ironic either. I love-hate this book very very much.
Because of my biased love for this book (and no, i haven’t to read the others in the series. why bother? book one is perfection) I knew it wouldn’t be right to begin Best Worst Reads with this gem. Instead, one should be adventurous and try something new.
I’d never read a Jackie before although I do remember seeing a telemovie starring Jennie Garth years ago. I’m pretty sure the film was ‘Lucky’ because i felt both scandalised and enthralled at the same time. If Jackie had made me feel that way once before then she could make me feel that way again. I knew Jackie would treat me right.
How wrong I was. On all accounts. First of all, Jennie wasn’t in ‘Lucky’, she was in ‘Star’. And that’s not a Jackie book. Second of all, that meant Jackie hadn’t made me feel any particular way whatsoever and I had been officially duped.
Hollywood Wives sounded like it would be amazing to read. Check out the blurb:
KINKY, HOT, GLAMOUROUS, AND DIRTY. THEY ARE…
They lunch at Ma Maison and the Bistro on salads and hot gossip. They cruise Rodeo Drive in their Mercedes and Rolls, turning shopping at Giorgio and Gucci into an art form. They pursue the body beautiful at the Workout and Body Asylum. Dressed by St. Laurent and Galanos, they dine at the latest restaurants on the rise and fall of one another’s fortunes. They are the Hollywood Wives, a privileged breed of women whose ticket to ride is a famous husband. Hollywood. At its most flamboyant.
Cosmopolitan had this to say:
You’ll probably stay up all night reading Hollywood Wives
I was ready. I wanted to love-hate this book just like my precious Flowers in the Attic. So 3 months before our big festival night I cracked the book open. The prologue was promising. Then I read chapter 1. I closed the book. I would not be staying up all night reading. That book then sat on my desk at home and at work for months…right up until 2 weeks before the event and I realised that if I didn’t read the book there would be no book club. Well, there would be but I would have nothing of value to talk about.
I began reading again. I made it to chapter 10. I closed the book. I was already confused as to what was going on: an endless parade of characters, endless mentions of nipples and older men having sex with much much younger women, endless lunches at Ma Maison, and racist, homophobic and sexist snipes masquerading as comedy. If I was this lost at the end of chapter 10, how the hell was I going to cope with the rest?
5 nights before the event. I realised the only way I would cope was to speed reading. I read the book in 3 sittings. It was hypnotic. But this is all I can remember from that epic reading journey:
Buddy and Angel fall in love
Buddy had a very traumatic childhood and adolescence.
Buddy and Angel think each other is really hot and that’s what love is all about.
Montana is struggling to fight the power. Meanwhile she suspects her husband is up to no good. He is.
The cop chasing down the psycho killer is kinda creepy.
Why is this book called Hollywood Wives when it’s all about the husbands? Jackie makes the wives so boring.
Street people. This film sucks.
Does someone try to plan a party for some reason?
yes. yes they do.
Buddy goes back to his escort roots. Angel gets pregnant.
They are all at lunch at Ma Maison again.
Jackie likes to name drop big stars, particularly Burt Reynolds.
Buddy and Angel break up. Oh well.
Some creepy old guy watches Angel.
hundreds of pages go by. I am not having a good time.
I begin to develop theories about the book. One is that the killer, Deke, will come to the party that is being planned and do some hack job on…
…Nope. that didn’t happen.
Montana’s husband dies while having sex. Cold cucumbers.
Street people is never being made. Thank god.
Buddy and Angel get back together.
God, all these people in the book are just awful.
Holy. Shit. That’s not Buddy’s mum? Wait…could that little kid be Buddy’s son? Nope. But that would’ve been a heaps better ending.
Buddy’s real mum is revealed.
Angel and Buddy have twins. Bam!
Montana sends a literal piece of bullshit to someone in the mail.
Hollywood Wives is nowhere near as fun as it should be. And that’s unfortunate because look how amazing the theme song for the mini series is:
And look how funny Jackie is (I’m glad Graham is just as confused by her books as me):
But I know what you’re thinking: should I read this book?
If it wasn’t for the book club, I would never have finished it. And if you have never read Flowers in the Attic, stop what you’re doing and go get a copy. Hollywood Wives left me angry, confused, and feeling shameful. But not Buddy shameful. No one can be made to feel that shameful.
However, I did find myself chuckling from time to time and for that reason alone, you should read this book. with caveats. The best characters by far are the ridiculous Buddy and Angel. Read any bit that are about them. I also recommend you read the prologue, 3 random bits in the middle and then read the whole thing from roughly page 350 or so (the bit when the big party happens and everything powers home).
But I’m not ready to give up on Jackie yet.