Liz Smith : Females on the beach.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

LIZ SMITH: Females on the Beach

Liz and Joan in 1986.

by Liz Smith

Females on the Beach: Joan Collins turns deadly “The St. Tropez Lonely Hearts Club.”

“AH, YES, marriage. The deep, deep peace of the double bed after the hurly burly of the chaise lounge!”

So says Sophie Silvestri, “aging film star of the 1960s” in the latest Joan Collins roman a clef, “The St. Tropez Lonely Hearts Club.” This is Joan’s 18th book. She has written about everything from herself to beauty and fitness to fiction to, well, herself!

Joan reading from her latest novel, “The St. Tropez Lonely Hearts Club.” Click to order.
Her new one — which begins with a sly homage to “Sunset Boulevard” — takes place in St. Tropez, and it’s just the sort thing to read on the beach in St. Tropez. Or curled up on your couch with a hot toddy in New Jersey. As usual with this kind of thing, one is encouraged to look beneath the make-believe characters and find the “real” person. (Taking into account that in showbiz, the latter is mighty hard to come by.)

La Liz — “Remembered” by Joan Collins in “St. Tropez?”

So various pop stars, tycoons, heiresses and social parasites have personality quirks one might recognize from glancing at the gossip columns or glossy magazines. But it’s all in good fun. Miss Collins devises a story that is highly improbable and hilariously entertaining — there’s a good deal of murder, too.

One character I did recognize right off was the above-mentioned Sophie Silvestri. She seems to be a teensy-weensy bit based on Joan’s dear friend, the gone but immortal Elizabeth Taylor. Naturally, it’s not an exact portrait. Sophie has never been wed. But somehow that makes the comparison all the more obvious. It’s not unflattering — Sophie is described as “sweet and sad.” After all, Joan can only write based on her own experiences, yes? Or things she’s heard about and been witness to. Although I doubt she’s ever been at a dinner where everybody contracts food poisoning — killing a famous star. (As happens in her novel.)

Now, I don’t want to imply that Joan harbors any enmity toward Miss Taylor. They were friends. And the last time I did imply such a thing — after they had appeared together — along with Debbie Reynolds and Shirley MacLaine — in the wretched TV movie “These Old Broads,” I received a tearful call from Joan, and then — stunningly — a stern phone call from La Liz herself. So there. (“Joan and I are friends, Liz,” said ET with silky severity.)

P.S. Joan dedicates this book to her sister, the late Jackie Collins — “For Jackie. I will never forget you.”

Joan and Jackie.
JOAN HAS also been in the news with the sale of some of her clothes and jewels and what-nots at Juliens Auctions in Beverly Hills. She pulled in a nice chunk of change for her belongings, which included several “love letters” from Warren Beatty and a 1973 British MG roadster she never drove. (Collins admits to being a shade on the hoarder side.)
Joan in her 1973 MG Midget Mark III Roadster, which sold for $10,880.