Saturday, 30 August 2008

Valley of the Dolls by Jaqueline Susann & Tan Lines by JJ Salem

Valley of the Dolls
is a Roman a clef novel based on real life events but within a fictional context, which I believe caused quite a scandal when it was first published - lifting the lid on fame and it's associated struggles. This is particularly resonant in a time when every facet of fame is very much played out in the public eye. Witness the downward spiral of musical prodigy Amy Winehouse for a fine contemporary example.

The copy I read was a new edition by Virago Press with a beautiful cover by Biba founder Barbara Hulanicki, which raises the cover art above the realm of your average book and is complemented by a foreword from the delightfully scathing Julie Burchill. I took this away with me on a WAG style mini-break to a lovely hotel where we were upgraded to a very civilised suite with a huge art-deco style bathroom. It rained, and I read. I have to admit I loved Valley of the Dolls, it's a real page turner.

Tan Lines is an extension of Dolls, even having three key protagonists - the author J.J Salem has been hailed as the new Jackie Collins. The novel describes a world of 'Three women. With everything they could ever need. But nothing they really want.' Sound at all familiar? Still, it's a great read, fast paced and sharply observed. This is Salem's first novel and I hope he's not a one hit wonder, as I think he has a great future writing in this genre and I very much look forward to his next project. Who will he poach a plot from next?


Saturday, 23 August 2008

The Bluestocking Society's Lit Flicks Challenge

I found this challenge via another blogger's site and it seems like a particularly good challenge to bring myself in on, never having participated in one before.

I have come up with the list below and there are reasons for each selection. Now... coming up with the list is one of the most enjoyable parts of such an experience for me - the window shopping, the amazon-browsing - it's an enjoyable way to pass the time! I will be discussing my amazon obsession in a later post, but suffice to say, it's an addiction.

Lit Flicks Challenge

Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day by Winifred Watson: I'd been interested in Persephone Books for a while having seen other bloggers post about the bookshop and the array of books they have re-printed. I visited the shop on Lambs Conduit Street last weekend and bought Miss Pettigrew there. I got the Persephone Dove Grey cover as opposed to the new illustrated cover - it satisfies my aesthetic sensibilities! I'm hoping to see the newly released film as part of this challenge.

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote: This is one of my favourite films, I love Hepburn in it, she is simply fantastic. I've never read the original novel though and this seems like a good excuse to do it.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden: The film is directed by Rob Marshall, who did such a good job on the film version of Chicago. I love the way he thought through everything so theatrically, staying true to the piece as a stage show. I wonder if he'll stay true to a book in quite the same way, so reading this first and then watching Marshall's film will prove or disprove my hypothesis about him as a director.

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier: I thought I should!

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray: Vanity Fair is a classic piece of literature that I have never even come close to reading. The film had some scenes filmed in Bath, and I'll be interested to see it and although I'm not sure it's reviews were very good, it should still be worth a look.

I'm going to order my books now, and look forward to starting the challenge in September!