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My Missus

John Sutherland

13 May 1993
Popular Reading and Publishing in Britain, 1914-1950 
by Joseph McAleer.
Oxford, 284 pp., £35, December 1992, 0 19 820329 2
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American Star: A Love Story 
by Jackie Collins.
Heinemann, 568 pp., £14.99, March 1993, 0 434 14093 7
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... through London bookstalls – that middle-class litterateurs like himself knew (and cared) less about working-class literature than about Lapland. In a much quoted essay twenty years later, Wilkie Collins, after a similar expedition, coined the phrase ‘the Unknown Public’. It was something of a misnomer since the public was well enough known. It was their ‘entertaining literature’ that was the ...

Short Cuts

Nick Richardson: ‘The Bestseller Code’

17 November 2016
... is chemistry; then she gets drunk, calls him and throws up; then they have sex and it is fun; then she learns about Grey’s ‘dark side’ and his ‘rules’; and so on. The plots of Stephen King, JackieCollins, Dan Brown, Sylvia Day, Danielle Steel, Lee Child and James Patterson all, apparently, have a similar shape, and the curve of The Da Vinci Code is identical in its measuring out of highs and ...

All Woman

Michael Mason

23 May 1985
‘Men’: A Documentary 
by Anna Ford.
Weidenfeld, 196 pp., £10.95, March 1985, 0 297 78468 4
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Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure 
by John Cleland, edited by Peter Sabor.
Oxford, 256 pp., £1.95, February 1985, 0 19 281634 9
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... inverted commas are sneaked in to discredit further the suggestion of objectivity or factuality which the subtitle might regrettably have carried. The reduction of Anna Ford to the thinking man’s JackieCollins is complete. This is to state an undoubted unfairness to the intentions of the author, in the presentation of her book. On Ms Ford’s account, its germ is her undergraduate study of social ...
27 May 1993
Body Work 
by Peter Brooks.
Harvard, 325 pp., £39.95, May 1993, 0 674 07724 5
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... or desirous: it is becoming harder, given this fashionable turn to the somatic, to distinguish the literary theory section of the local bookshop from the soft porn shelves, sort out the latest JackieCollins from the later Roland Barthes. Many an eager masturbator must have borne away some sexy-looking tome only to find himself reading up on the floating signifier. Sexuality began in the late ...

Travelling Southwards

Andrew O’Hagan: ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

19 July 2012
Fifty Shades of Grey 
by E.L. James.
Arrow, 514 pp., £7.99, April 2012, 978 0 09 957993 9
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... fair, did your father, and to be even fairer, 400 million other people. When I was about ten I went to a jumble sale to buy books only to discover that everything that wasn’t a copy of Jaws was by JackieCollins, Harold Robbins, Sidney Sheldon, or Danielle Steel. I noted this cultural deficit in my compendium of things to complain about to God but I read The Bitch myself on the way home and remember ...

Self-Made Women

John Sutherland

11 July 1991
The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present 
edited by Virginia Blain, Isobel Grundy and Patricia Clements.
Batsford, 1231 pp., £35, August 1990, 0 7134 5848 8
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The Presence of the Present: Topics of the Day in the Victorian Novel 
by Richard Altick.
Ohio State, 854 pp., $45, March 1991, 0 8142 0518 6
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... not have an entry, nor is she mentioned in the Popular Fiction entry. Similarly excluded are Judith Krantz, Jean Auel, Danielle Steel, Jilly Cooper, Mary Higgins Clark, V.C. Andrews, Shirley Conran, Jackie Briskin, Rosemary Rogers. All these names have figured in recent best-seller lists, lists which are dominated by women novelists of no apparent interest to the Companion. It is instructive to look at ...
8 January 1987
Hollywood Husbands 
by Jackie Collins.
Heinemann, 508 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 434 14090 2
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Letters from Hollywood 
by Michael Moorcock.
Harrap, 232 pp., £10.95, August 1986, 0 245 54379 1
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Rain or Shine: A Family Memoir 
by Cyra McFadden.
Secker, 178 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 436 27580 5
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... distinctions between economics and fantasy, base and superstructure, have been annulled. Hollywood and Southern California acquire the Empyrean hues with which they shimmer in the English mind today. JackieCollins’s new novel, Hollywood Husbands, continues her maniacal Frankensteinian attempt to effect the imaginative transfer of the American base to a British brain. As in much of Ms Collins’s ...
8 November 1990
The Virago Book of Fairy-Tales 
edited by Angela Carter.
Virago, 242 pp., £12.99, October 1990, 1 85381 205 6
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Sisters and Strangers: A Moral Tale 
by Emma Tennant.
Grafton, 184 pp., £12.95, July 1990, 0 246 13429 1
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... tale characters rollercoaster through the gender roles prescribed them. Eve shifts shape from dreamboat lover through to single mum, Madonna (blue-mantle variety rather than blue-velvet), whore, JackieCollins/Shirley Conran, power-dressed overachieving brain surgeon: she samples the splendours and the miseries of a present-day courtesan, for the Eve of today still cannot find an identity apart ...

How Wicked – Horrid

David Blackbourn: Two Duff Kings

15 July 1999
Young Wilhelm: The Kaiser’s Early Life, 1859-88 
by John Röhl, translated by Jeremy Gaines.
Cambridge, 979 pp., £45, October 1999, 0 521 49752 3
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... with prostitutes led on more than one occasion to blackmail. Sections of this romp through the titled Eurotrash of the 19th century read as if the Almanach de Gotha had been adapted for television by JackieCollins. Many more sections read like a medical dictionary. Starting with Wilhelm’s coraco brachialis and pectoralis major, the operation on his sternocleidomastoid muscle, and subsequent problems ...


Colin McGinn: A Philosopher in LA

4 September 1986
... of boring, tawdry and depressing. The cover of the paperback edition of Money reflects this ironic inversion, at least to my eye: you’d think the book belonged to the titillatory tradition of a JackieCollins expose of the rich and famous. The final irony would be a Hollywood movie based on the book which made lots of money by treating money as the fetish Money condemns it for being. As the novel ...


Philip Horne and Danny Karlin: Million Dollar Bashers

22 June 1989
... she had. And what she had was the promise of sex ... What a tease that girl was! She fancied herself a ‘real outlandish creature’. The ultimate shiksa who haunted every Jewish boy’s dreams. JackieCollins would blush to have written this. Spitz’s lowlife style would matter less if he had any knowledge of, or interest in, Dylan’s work. Not much is to be learned from sentences like this ...

Death among the Barbours

Christopher Tayler: Donna Tartt

19 December 2013
The Goldfinch 
by Donna Tartt.
Little, Brown, 771 pp., £20, October 2013, 978 1 4087 0494 3
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... awarded for upper-middle-class good taste on a budget. At the bottom of the heap is Xandra, who wears short skirts and too much lip gloss, has a slag-tag tattoo and ‘teeth that went in’, reads JackieCollins, watches American Idol and flips out over five dollars’ worth of change. At the other end of the scale, the Barbours are too rich to have a properly connoisseurial attitude to their fine ...

Chianti in Khartoum

Nick Laird: Louis MacNeice

3 March 2011
Letters of Louis MacNeice 
edited by Jonathan Allison.
Faber, 768 pp., £35, May 2010, 978 0 571 22441 8
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... and MacNeice gave each other female alter egos, Susie and Antonia, and the letters reveal the existence of a protracted infatuation or love affair with a young man called Charles Thurstan Edward-Collins (the possessor of the ‘grey feminine eyes’). Louis returned to Marlborough to visit after he left for Oxford. (‘I told Charles I wasn’t coming to M.C. any more but I expect I shall. The ...

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