Book Review: Confessions of a Wild Child

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Book Review: Confessions of a Wild Child

Jackie Collins' Confessions of a Wild Child is the prequel to Chances and lets us into the tangled web Lucky Santangelo wove as a rebellious teen.


Sushmita Bose

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Published: Fri 27 May 2016, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 27 May 2016, 2:00 AM

When Jackie Collins passed away last year, it was the end of an era. Long before the advent of the likes of E.L. James, the "original" wild child of pulp fiction had managed to perpetuate the look of "being scandalised" on the faces of all readers she had hooked. There were many - simply because the frenzied 'moral transgressions' debates her offerings engendered stoked the curiosity of purists even and all of her books have been bestsellers. Of course, as the (literary) world loosened up (not that I'm comparing D.H. Lawrence with Ms Collins, but didn't Lady Chatterley's Lover get inducted into the hall of fame in good time?), Collins came to be known as the diva of scurrilous writing with a bustling legion of fans.
Reading Collins in 2016 is not the same as reading her in the 1960s. Her first book, The World Is Full Of Married Men, had prompted the queen of treacly romances, Barbara Cartland, to label it "nasty, filthy and disgusting"; Cartland had then gone on to charge Collins with "creating every pervert in Britain". But don't get ready to enter the confessional box if you're planning to read Confessions of a Wild Child, one of Collins' very last novels, published in 2014, that I happened to lay hands on recently. Wild Child is actually pretty tame compared to her past indiscretions/shockers like Hollywood Husbands, Hollywood Wives, Married Lovers and their ilk.
It is also the prequel to one of Collins' highest rated reads, Chances, that famously introduced Lucky Santangelo. Chances came out in 1981; Confessions of a Wild Child - that traces Lucky's teenage years - comes out a full three and a half decades later. It gives a half-baked peek into the murky world of underworld underpinnings (from a 15-year-old's perspective), and if you are not in the mood to grapple with the intensity of a Mario Puzo or Lorenzo Cacaterra, this might be a fun induction into mafioso (the bodies still keep piling up, don't worry) alongside a "coming of age" drama of an oestrogen-overdosed teenager. The contexts of earlier sequels (Chances, Lucky, Lady Boss and so on) are put in perspective fittingly, seamlessly; Collins may have been pushing 80 when she wrote Confessions of a Wild Child, but it's clear that her mind was razor-sharp.
But the book's trump card is the language and the somewhat jerky narration. You know where it's coming from: the stream of consciousness of a somewhat unstable 15-year-old Lucky, who peaks and troughs. At almost 80, Collins writes the diary of a wild child impeccably. I leave you with a piece of Lucky's mind:
"Marco is standing next to the limo, speaking with the driver. Marco is. a total babe. He's way over six feet tall, lean and muscular, with thick black curly hair and lips to die for. He's old. Probably late twenties. It doesn't matter because I have a major crush. He's handsomer than any movie star and major cool. Problem is that he talks down to me, treats me as if I'm a little kid, which I suppose in his eyes I am. I'm on a mission to make him notice me in a different way. "

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