The first time I ever came across an Olivia Goldsmith novel was when I purchased FLAVOR OF THE MONTH in hardcover. It was on discount and I just couldn’t pass it up. I mean look at that sleazy cover. Right up my alley, I must say. The year was 1994 and I was living at my parent’s place after a row with a rat in my flat’s wall (don’t ask). I read many novels during that brief stay. Perhaps it was a coping mechanism for having returned home with my tail between my legs (wipe that smirk off your face). You see, I didn’t have the greatest relationship with my folks. Not that they are horrible people, au contraire; they have always been present whenever one of us kids was in trouble. But they just are not very demonstrative people. But that’s OK. I understand now, being older and all, that love is shown in many different forms, and being there is one of them.
Anyway, as I was saying, Olivia Goldsmith automatically became a must-read author after I finished FLAVOR OF THE MONTH. The story centers around three gorgeous newcomers who make it big when their TV show becomes an instant hit (à la CHARLIE’S ANGELS but on motorcycles). Just like the readers of this novel, they too get caught up into this fast-lane world of lovers, cheaters, users, back-stabbers, and soon all end up paying big time for fame (of course). The one who suffers the most (at least I thought she did when I read it in ’94) is Texan Sharleen whose naïve streak makes her the most gullible of the three. Her sexual abuse on the Hollywood hills by a bigwig still resonates with me after all these years. Of course the other two main ladies get plenty of page time of their own but that Texan chick is really what made me turn the pages quicker.
Narrated by a fictional reporter to the stars, the story does nothing but glide along smoothly with many secrets and sins peeled away and one whooper of a revelation that I came to figure out (being an old pro at the game even back then) which will unlikely happen to most of you. The author clearly has a ball keeping up the pace, and although it’s a big-ass book, not once did I feel the plot drag. Rarely comes a novel as perfectly tweaked and tucked as is this one.
How I wish they would have made a miniseries out of it. It could have been a spectacular two or three-night event à la LACE with lavish settings and costumes, not to mention hot mamas and papas. But it was not meant to be. But at least we got to see that same year Goldsmith’s debut novel THE FIRST WIVES CLUB hit the big screen with big fanfares. 10 years later she would pass away from cosmetic surgery complication (kind of ironic knowing that one of her main characters in FLAVOR goes from ugly duckling to swan after numerous procedures). In addition to those two, she left behind nine more novels which were all grand in their own way. I’m still trying to go through some of them (so many books so little time) but whatever read comes next, this spotlighted novel will always be held dear to my heart. It made a big impact on me at that time and I’m sure it will do the same for you given half a chance.
FLAVOR OF THE MONTH is available digitally from Diversion Books.
Until next post—Martin