Five years ago this month the bestselling author Jackie Collins died. In the minds of literary purists she was sniffily dismissed as a purveyor of filth and soft pornography. However she was so much more than her outrageous reputation suggests, she had a rare gift of capturing character. Some of the greatest writers struggle to create three dimensional characters and to produce a corresponding narrative that is convincing to the reader, Collins was the expert.
However entering Collins` milieu is like stepping into a bacchanalian play where conventional morals have been cast aside. The dominant motivation is simply ego, and she exposes how fragile this is especially within the male roles. The female characters have their frailties as well, but they also possess a sense of cunning. The scenes within her books are filled with disturbing levels of tragedy that would rival the likes of Anton Chekhov, spirits and hearts are broken in the wake of sheer naked ambition.
The apotheosis of Collins` career was the creation of the “Santangelo” saga of novels which featured Lucky Santangelo as the protagonist. These focus on the exploits of the daughter of a notorious criminal family. She is both clever and conniving and always gets what she wants, especially from men. Collins inspiration for all of her characters came from the most disreputable corners of show business and celebrity. Her gift was to burst the pomposity and self-importance that imbue the various creatures that inhabit such worlds. This is often evident in the supposedly raunchy interludes where seduction or attempted seduction takes place.
Collins was a gifted writer but also an amazing businesswoman who made a tremendous fortune. Everyone remembers the glamour that surrounded her, from her enormous Hollywood mansion and cars, to her penchant for leopard skin rugs and couture. Her life was fabulous and enviable, and she seemed almost eternally beautiful with her lustrous hair and slim figure. She became the inspiration for a new generation of female writers who were not afraid of exploring taboo subjects.