It’s about time that I start babbling about the king of sleaze Harold Robbins. I spent my youth reading this guy. And of all his trashy novels, I think THE LONELY LADY is by far my favorite. I got around to it after catching the cheesy film adaptation starring the ever-lovable Pia Zadora. If you have yet to see her in this, I urge you to do so. It’s a freaking experience you’re likely never to forget. I’m still hoping for the DVD edition. And I wouldn’t mind feasting on some supplements as well. But back to the book. I cannot express enough how much joy this novel has brought me over the years, but especially when I got a hold of it around 1983. It was during a low period in my life and I needed all the escape I could get, and in came this novel about a woman’s rise and fall in Hollywood and suffice to say I couldn’t get enough of it.
If you're used to Robbins’ over-the-top romps you'll notice that THE LONELY LADY is the first time the author opts for a woman as a central character. There are many guys in this as well, too many even, but they all have supporting roles. Of course, the author has to make them act horrible toward Jerilee. That’s the rule of his game. And true to form she even ends up being one big hoe. From stripping in seedy clubs to experiencing many Hollywood casting couches, Jerilee Randall is used, abused, and, alas, condemned to a life of suffering. But the thing that makes her her is the way she is able to rise above. She may be woman but boy does she roar. And like many other Harold Robbins offerings, her sound is quite addictive; probably more so on account that she is a likable character despite her too aggressive manner, and probably also because the book reads like a fun B-grade vintage paperback of the late ‘60s. The plot goes back and forth in time, but the present time is the strongest. There you'll find the sleazy side of Hollywood where Jerilee throws herself in without a parachute.
Like the film, THE LONELY LADY may not be appreciated by all. It’s even hard to digest sometimes. But taken with a grain of salt, it is a fine example of addictive fiction. Now, if only Robbins had followed this with more female-dominated characters, perhaps his star would have continued to shine instead of losing some luster as the years went by. Oh, there have been other noteworthy titles following THE LONELY LADY such as GOODBYE JANETTE but the many male-dominated efforts that came in-between were mostly underwhelming, in my opinion. I have yet to really get into his posthumous work. I did hear that they are quite stimulating, especially those written by Junius Podrog. If they are anything like THE LONELY LADY, perhaps I should make a detour and invest my time in them.
Until next post—Martin
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