Today's review is of a bit of a trashy book - Sex Lives of the Hollywood Goddesses by Nigel Cawthorne. This is an old book, published back in 2004 but I was given a copy as a gift for Christmas and finally got around to reading it on holiday. There's a whole series, with sex lives of politicians, dictators and...popes...apparently. This book includes sections on stars such as Joan Crawford, Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe, Jean Harlow and Rita Hayworth.
Firstly, I think the main point to know about this book is that it is written by a man and that the individual chapters on the various stars included are prefaced by an introduction that seemed to me to be particularly sexist, written in the style of a 'Sun' newspaper article, and didn't really offer any kind of historical or political context.
Irked, I delved into the first couple of chapters, which dealt with some of the earlier film stars such as Louise Brooks. The writing style is very factual, with a bit of sensationalising vocab thrown in, detailing every instance the author could find when such a star took their clothes off, or went out on the town with so and so, or had an affair with X. After a while it got a bit boring, and was about as titillating as reading a dictionary. I persevered through the whole book, and learnt a few interesting snippets along the way about Grace Kelly in particular that I hadn't been aware of, but aside from a selection of great photographs in the centre section, there wasn't much substance.
The really interesting stuff - childhood's, traumas, broken hearts - and how that could have impacted on the behaviour of the stars was what really interested me, with quite a surprising number of the ladies having had difficult experiences in their pasts. I think overall the book has inspired me to read more biographies, as all of the women mentioned in the book are far more complex than you'd think from seeing them on the silver screen, and their fame and fortune seemed to hinder rather than help them to be happy.
As a holiday read this was ok, but I think if the book had been written by a woman it would have had half a chance.