During the heydays of the ‘80s soaps, publishing firms around the globe took advantage of the glitz and glamour faze to publish their own versions of sin and sex among the rich. From first-time authors to established ones, nothing could stop them from delivering glam-related novels such as this reviewed title. Michael Korda was already a big thing in the industry, having worked as an editor/publisher for many years (Jacqueline Susann’s THE LOVE MACHINE is one of his doing). So it came as no surprise when he finally dabbled in commercial fiction writing in 1982. The title was WORDLY GOODS, and though it was a relatively successful book, it took QUEENIE a few years later to finally put him on the map as a top novelist.
Indeed, Michael Korda's fictionalized account of Anglo-Indian actress Merle Oberon's claim to fame in Hollywood's golden era is a delight from cover to cover. Naming her Dawn Avalon and putting her at risk when she is wrongfully accused of murder, the character flees India to London where, as Queenie Kelley, she becomes a star of stage and screen, while trying her best to stay incognito. Effectively narrated, Korda's story takes you back to a time when studio kings were enthralled by their star pets, as Queenie Kelly was by many, but especially by writer/director David Konig. Their union during the making of his film is as enchanting and as riveting as the entire novel itself.
Oh yes, I definitely was a happy trooper when it first came my way in 1986. It was around the start of my trashy period phase, and I couldn’t have picked a better title. Secrets, greed, sex, opulence, topped by a strong narrative and likable characters, I mean what more could a trashy bookworm want? Finding out also that the novel is actually based on the author’s relative (she’s his aunt) definitely put the cherry on top. That same year, a miniseries based on the novel was announced. It was to be broadcast on ABC, and I made sure to catch it when it aired. I have watched it many times since then. Of course there will be a further blog entry dedicated to it. In the meantime do as I did, pick up QUEENIE and spend a few hours in the glamorous world generated by Korda, then watch the TV adaptation to get up to speed. We’ll compare notes.
Until next post—Martin