The Other Collins Girl
Back in the 1980’s, after decades of less-then-memorable or downright embarrassing movie roles, Joan Collins finally found –or was allowed into- a goldmine when she was cast as Alexis Many Surnames in Dynasty. Until then, quite many had not realised that she is a real life sister of Jackie Collins, one of the most best selling authors of all times. This offered a stellar marketing tool, so it was not a surprise when also Joan tried her hand in writing, publishing her first work of fiction, Prime Time in 1988.
It is not a surprise either that she did not wander far from her successful sister’s favoured genre, Hollywood’s ruthlessly competitive and morally bankrupt television and film world, or that she put an ample amount of her own life into the story. That said, the heroine of Prime Time is a wholesome and raven-haired British singer Chloe Carriere. Pushing forty, best days of her singing career behind her and her marriage to a fellow musician and duet partner Josh Brown in life support, Chloe seeks a much-coveted role of Miranda in a new big budget soap called “Saga”. And she wins, which does not sit well with the Tinsel Town’s vultures.
Considering how much ridiculed Joan Collins’ literary attempts were back then, it IS a surprise how competent her writing actually is. Admittedly she is telling about her own experiences in Dynasty, not shying away even from one of her characters HIV-scandal (R.I.P Rock Hudson), but even so, Prime Time is much more detailed and nuanced than anything Jackie Collins was churning out at the time, or since. Also, although her obvious alter ego Chloe does come across as goody-goody, Joan does not patronise the reader by providing them obvious heroes and villains, both equally unlikeable, like Jackie does. Joan does have her little sisters’ trademark, coarseness and raunch, but even then her take on sex comes across much more maturely than Jackie’s nubile 18-year olds approach.
It has been claimed that Joan Collins did not write Prime Time herself, which I am prone to believe in a light of her weak and uninspired follow-up, Love, Desire, Hate in 1991. It has also been said that it was Jackie who wrote this book, which in contrary does not make sense because why would she had made the effort to write a better book for her sister than one on her own. I think it’s apparent by now that Jackie Collins is not one of my favourite authors but I will review one of her books in near future.