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Top Five Jackie Collins Novels You Should Not Miss

... Alison Flood/The Guardian:

As a teenager, I knew that other people were reading Jackie Collins. After all, her books screamed “No 1 bestseller” on the front. But I didn’t shout about my choices, perhaps because in my early teens I was hiding my raunchy reading material from my parents, and in my late teens the books were a guilty pleasure for someone who was meant to be getting to grips with The Merchant’s Tale for her A-levels. Well, I should have done: “sex-filled, escapist, utterly unpretentious”, as the New York Times puts it, Collins’ novels are an over-the-top, steamy delight. Clearly she had as much fun writing them as we do reading them. Looking back through her writing to compile the list below, I can’t help imagining the wicked grin spreading across her face as she whipped up her patented mix of sex, scandal and glamour. Here are my five favourites – though I’m willing to be persuaded otherwise.

Hollywood Wives (1983)
This was my first Jackie Collins, and it contains a scene I will never forget: the film director who has a heart attack while having sex with a film star, after getting his privates stuck inside her. I was astonished, slightly traumatised and very thankful that these kinds of activities were a long way off for me. I was also hooked by Collins’ glitzy, glamorous, steamy world of beauties and sculpted bodies and sex and murder.

The World Is Full of Married Men (1968)
Jackie Collins’ first novel was given the ultimate tagline by Barbara Cartland: “nasty, filthy and disgusting”. (Cartland added: “Miss Collins, you are responsible for all the perverts in England.” Hurrah for Jackie. ) David’s wife, Linda, leaves him after he has an affair with Claudia: “She had long, shiny ash-blond hair, which fell thickly around her face, and deep bangs down to her eyebrows, which accentuated her enormous, slanty green eyes. The face was perfect, with a small straight nose and luscious full lips. She wore no makeup and no clothes, and was covered by only a thin silk sheet.”) Things don’t turn out well for David.

The Stud (1969)
Married Fontaine Khaled is “very haughty upper-class English. Beautiful of course, with chiselled bones (whether by nature or cosmetic surgery no one knows”. She hires a man to run her night club and also keep her happy sexually. “I suppose you’re wondering how this all came about, how a guy like me, Tony Schwartzburg from somewhere near the Elephant and Castle, turned into Tony Blake, man about town, friend of the stars, host at the most ‘in’ discotheque, Hobo.” Collins’ sister Joan starred in the film adaptation.

The Bitch (1979)
The story of Fontaine, now the ex-wife of billionire businessman Benjamin Khaled, continues in this novel as she enjoys an expensive party lifestyle and meets ladies’ man Nico Constantine. It was also adapted as a film, with Joan Collins reprising her role as Fontaine. Collins self-published an updated, rewritten version of the novel in the US in 2012.

Lucky (1985)
It’s tricky to choose one favourite Santangelo novel, but I think Lucky is my pick (or is it Lady Boss?). Beautiful, wild, tough and street-smart, Lucky Santangelo is the daughter of gangster Gino (family motto: “Never fuck with a Santangelo”), who here is running a casino in Las Vegas. In weighing in on the novel, the NY Daily News said: “So hot it will have to be printed on asbestos.” The ninth Lucky story, The Santangelos, was published earlier this month

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