Jackie Collins: she's still the queen of the bonkbusters
Back in 1968, romance writer Barbara Cartland described Jackie Collins' first novel (The World is Full of Married Men) as "nasty, filthy and disgusting". The book was banned in Australia and South Africa, but the scandal helped propel Collins on to the bestsellers lists in both the US and the UK.
Forty-four years on, her star shows no sign of waning -- all 28 of her novels have appeared on the New York Times bestsellers list.
Younger sister of actress Joan Collins -- the pair of them sometimes appear in publicity shots together -- The Power Trip is her 29th book.
The plot centres around Russian oligarch Aleksandr (think Abramovich) and his supermodel girlfriend Bianca, who invite five power couples to join them on the maiden voyage of their luxury yacht.
Their guests include a famous footballer, a Latino pop star, a maverick writer, an A-list movie star and a US senator. And their partners.
The 'trip of a lifetime' quickly becomes a journey into hell as old secrets and lies unravel, new bonds are forged and old relationships bite the dust. And danger lies on the horizon when an archenemy of Aleksandr attempts to settle an old score.
Collins's most startling achievement in this 528-page monster of a book is that she manages to write a funny line just once (on page 425, if you dare).
She displays a disturbing preoccupation with 'packages', 'appendages' and 'manmeat'. Without even a hint of a wink to the reader, we are told that Aleksandr -- look away now, Black Beauty -- is 'hung like a horse'.
The men are either heroes or villains (and -- you guessed it -- the villains are envious of the better-endowed heroes' 'packages').
The women are, in the main, portrayed as vain, greedy, weak, self-indulgent -- if glamourous and sexually available -- airheads.
There is little wrong with the story itself in The Power Trip and it unfolds at a cracking pace -- it is Collins' ability as a storyteller that goes some way towards explaining her long reign as 'Queen of the Bonkbuster'.
But -- and I think the late Dame Barbara Cartland would agree with me here -- the world could live without the never-ending clichés, the one-dimensional characters, the humourlessness and the fifty shades of blue.