In 1989, the year these superbly catty diaries begin, Joan Collins was cruelly forced “back to the greasepaint grindstone”, said Sarah Ditum in The Times. Dynasty, the Atlanta-set “oil and opulence soap opera” which had made her a TV icon, was wrapping up its final season. Suddenly, the 45-year-old actress was unemployed, without obvious means to “fund her appetite for caviar and world-class shopping trips”.
And so begins a frenetic whirl of socialising and self-promotion, said Camilla Long in The Sunday Times. “I have read many memoirs by celebs about parties, but in terms of sheer ability to scrape back the jowls and snap on the wig, Collins takes the trophy.”
It all gets a bit confusing at times, especially as Collins spends so much time with hundreds of people you’ve never heard of, often with fabulously silly names (Kooky Fallah, Lucky Vanous, the leading “foot man” Dr Rock Positano). But fortunately, she never stints on the bitchiness. She describes one party as “a complete crush of hags, facelifts and ancient old men in flashy suits”. Catherine Deneuve is “stuck up” and “a bitch”. Special revulsion is reserved for those with bad plastic surgery – in Collins’s eyes, “almost a moral failing”.
Hollywood is a game Collins “plays non-stop”, said Roger Lewis in The Daily Telegraph. She knows whom to cold-shoulder and whom to embrace, and which producers to wave to across crowded rooms. She does it all with “grim determination”, yet what struck me most forcefully is the sheer monotony of her existence, how much time she spends with “incredibly boring people”.
As a result, long stretches of these diaries are as “flat and uninformative as a Christmas round robin”. What depth they have comes from what Collins’s relentless persona tries to conceal: a “lot of insecurity” and “real pain”.
Weidenfeld 384pp £20; The Week Bookshop £15.99
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