Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Reading Like It’s 1982

The news seems to be getting worse daily and it’s gotten to the point where I am watching the weatherman just to see the forecast, then I turn off the TV. This is leaving me more time to read, which has been kind of nice, I have to say! And I’m realizing that what I want to read right now are some fun, deliciously bad juicy novels. Preferably from the early 1980s.

This is a reaction to reading a book this summer I had high hopes for, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. It had all the makings of a good trashy 1980s-like novel—legendary actress who scratched and crawled her way to the top, leaving many husbands in her wake, Hollywood in the 1950s and 60s, probably one of my favorite time periods in the history of Tinseltown, and the mystery of why Evelyn Hugo picks an unknown fledgling journalist to give her biography to—which reminded me so much of how Ava Gardner gave her life story to Peter Evans.

Good premise, but didn’t deliver.

Well. It didn’t work for me as a novel. I didn’t believe most of it. It seemed totally out of touch with how Hollywood actually was in the 1950s under the old studio system, with dialogue and scenarios that seemed like things would people say and do today, not sixty years ago. I don’t think I read one line of dialogue in the whole book that made me think, Yup, that’s how they talked in the 1950s. Admittedly, I am not an expert, but I have read several biographies each on Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly, as well as the Peter Evans book on Ava Gardner, and in each book there was extensive coverage of how Hollywood worked back in its Golden Era. I did not believe the basic premise of this book (which I can’t divulge or I will ruin it for you) and none of the Hollywood scenes rang true to me. Not one of them! If you want to read snippets of the way people actually talked in Hollywood’s heyday, swing by my review of Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations because I included quotes straight from Ava’s beautiful mouth!

Because the book fell so short for me, I was reminded of all those over-the-top and suspenseful novels being penned in the 1980s that I just loved by Jackie Collins, Sidney Sheldon, and Danielle Steel. Books that I believed! Books that never let me down! When I was a teen I particularly liked the Lucky Santangelo series that Jackie Collins wrote, starting with Chances in 1981.

I loved this heroine!

Two other fun reads were Master of the Game by Sidney Sheldon (1982) and A Perfect Stranger by Danielle Steel (1981). I liked these kinds of books so much better than anything else back when I was in high school.

Everything is better with diamonds.

I think I read this during Geometry class.

One novel from that time that I never read, but just started last week, is Lace, by Shirley Conran, which came out in 1982.

A 50 Shades spin on the new cover.

I was a teen when the miniseries came out. Anybody remember that TV event in 1984? With Phoebe Cates as Lili and Brooke Adams, Bess Armstrong, and Arielle Dombasle, one of whom is the mother she has never met? My mother must have let me watch this series (thank you, Mom!) because I remember being riveted by it. Anybody else recall that great line Phoebe gets to say?

“Incidentally, which one of you bitches is my mother?”

Phoebe in Lace. Love this costume so much!

I see the book is being remarketed these days as a forerunner to 50 Shades of Grey, which is weird to me since every time I heard of that book I wondered, What’s the big deal? Did none of you read The Story of O?

If you read Lace, or saw the miniseries, let me know what you thought of it. If you read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo tell me what you thought of that. The way things are going in this country and around the world, I need some escapist fiction so if you have some good titles to add to my reading list, I am all ears!


PinkCheetahVintage said...

Omggggg what about the Sleeping Beauty series by Anne Rice!!!!! hahahaha!!! 50 Shades of nothing lmao!!!!!

rosie said...

I read the book and watched the series. And loved them. You really got to know Ms. Conran's characters. I do remember the "which one of you .....'s is my mother" line. The name Lily became more popular after this book came out. Glad the name Pagan didn't catch on. Awful name

A favorite book of my was The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly, written in 2002. It is historical fiction and follows an Irish East End's family in London and their destruction. The heroine is Fiona.

Jill said...

Hi Becky, oh yes, I had almost forgotten about the Sleeping Beauty series by Anne Rice! That was a consistent seller at the bookstore I worked at when I was in college, lol. xx

Jill said...

Hi Rosie, I am reading Lace right now and I agree with you, Conran really takes her time with the characters. I am enjoying it so far. I will keep the book you mentioned in mind. I am with you, Pagan is a terrible name for a girl! xx